Friday, September 23, 2005

Announcement (Updated 09/23/2005)

Thank you for visiting His Banquet Table's Weekly Word section.

Our minister, Debbie Ayers, had to go into the hospital on Wednesday to undergo back and neck surgery. At last report she is doing fine, and is recovering nicely. She has since returned home, but it could be weeks before she is able to resume writing or posting to His Banquet Table.

Therefore, please keep Debbie and her husband Ted in your prayers as they go through this healing time which must be hard on their entire family.

I was going to post my favorite Weekly Words for you enjoy again, but decided that it's best to let you just catch up or to pick your own favorites.

So, please use the navigations on the left and click through archives. Some of them you may have read before and can now enjoy again, or you may find some that you missed and you can enjoy them for the first time.

Regardless, please enjoy the site, and be sure to keep checking back for when Debbie returns full force.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Weekly Word for September 16 - 23, 2005

Weekly Word - September 16, 2005

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; . . . Perplexed, but not despairing; . . . Persecuted, but not forsaken; . . . Struck down, but not destroyed;
(2 Corinthians 4: 8 & 9)

The pictures on the television showed the faces. They were the faces of those who had lost everything. They were the eyes of despair. So many had lost so much. Their homes, their neighborhoods, their cities and towns - all were destroyed. So many lives were torn apart - as they searched for what to do. So many lives were lost, just washed away by the winds and waters. It was hard to watch the news, and not wonder at the desolation and destruction that happens in life - to simple, everyday people. As the faces and images went across the screen - a memory came back. It was from a time many, many years ago. Now, so many years later, I can’t remember her name. But I remember her face - - - and those haunting eyes . . .

While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen - are temporal, but the things which are not seen - are eternal.
(2 Corinthians 4: 18)

I was only about 18 years old, and I had just started working at a nursing home. It was a small nursing home, and I had been hired to work 2nd shift and week-ends. I was hired as a nurses aide, and my job mostly consisted of taking the residents their suppers and helping them to get ready for bed. My mother was a nurse at the home, and I thought I wanted to go into nursing too. But as I took the job - I really wasn’t sure about it.

Driving up to the home, it looked like a beautiful southern Victorian house. It was painted white, and had a huge wrap-around porch in front. The yard was beautiful, with a large green lawn and well kept gardens and shrubbery. It wasn’t until later on, that I learned that one of the men who lived at the home, kept up the gardens and shrubs. It really was a beautiful home, as you drove up the driveway. And then you went inside, and the smells immediately hit you! It smelled like a nursing home. It smelled of medicine, and disinfectant, and in certain places - like urine. As I first started to work there, my stomach was always in knots. I really wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this kind of work.

So as I started my training, my nerves made it almost impossible for me to see the “residents”. That was the name that they used for the people who I would be taking care of. They were mostly older people from the local area, and 90% of them were women. They were mostly Polish, and had been wives, mothers, and grandmothers. Most were now widows, and after years of working hard - on farms and in factories, through a depression and world wars - they were now here - to live out there lives. So as I started my training, these ladies had to put up with my mistakes and awkwardness. They patiently told me where to find things, and what to do - as I tried to take care of them!

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, Take courage, fear not.
(Isaiah 35: 3 &4)

As I started to learn a little about the home, and the people who lived there, I started to make friends with these ladies. My job was to take care of the women who lived down one hallway of the home. I would hear about the few men who also lived there, but it wasn’t my job to care for them. Walking into the house, I would hear the ladies talking among themselves, mostly in Polish. The women who were healthy enough, would get dressed each day and then head for the common areas of the house. They would sit and talk together, watching television and working on something they were either knitting or crocheting. These ladies had always worked, and so they continued to do so. I would say hi to them, teasing them a little, before I headed off to hear report. That was when we would find out who might have gotten sicker, who needed more help, and also at times - - - who might have passed away.

At the very end of the hall where I worked, was the room where “she” lived. It was a few months before I was given care of her. I would always hear her, but it wasn’t my job to take care of her. She was one of the most difficult residents living at the home. And so it was with some nervousness that I first entered her room. I had been in there a few times to talk to the nurse on duty, but never to actually take care of her. Like most of the other ladies, she was Polish. But she never spoke English. She spent most days rocking in her chair, her hands curled into fists, as she yelled or moaned all day long. To say she was thin, was an understatement. The bones in her arms and legs showed through her skin, and I was afraid I would break her if I touched her. She was what we called a “feeder”, which meant we had to try to feed her with a spoon. On most days, it was a very difficult process. The girls would end up leaving the room with most of her food still left in the bowl. So I really wasn’t looking forward to the chore.

“Take courage, fear not, Behold, your God will come . . . He will save you.”
(Isaiah 35: 4)

It was my first day taking care of her. As I entered her room, I said hello. I told her my name and that I had her supper. She moaned a little, and I wondered if she had even heard me. I put the tray down on the table next to her chair, and pulled another chair close to her. As I sat down, she seemed to curl away from me, and I wondered about it. So I talked to her a little more, telling her that I had her supper and that it smelled pretty good. Of course I was lying to her, as her dinner always came as some sort of liquid that you really didn’t know what it was! But I told her that anyways, as I put a bib around her. I then got her bowl and a spoon, and tried to find a way to get her to open her mouth. She moaned and whimpered, and seemed afraid. I looked at her, and tried to get her to understand me - hoping that she would eat something. I tried and tried, and she still wouldn’t eat. Most of what I tried to get into her mouth, ran down the front of her. I didn’t know what to do, and so I left - carrying the tray with most of her supper.

That night, after I got most of the other ladies their nightgowns out and their beds turned down - I had to go get her ready for bed. I asked the nurse to help me to get her moved over to her bed. And it took two of us to lift her from her chair, and move her into her bed. We put her nightgown on, and then we laid her down on her pillow. Her legs stayed curled, and so did her arms and hands. The nurse then left me, as I was putting the side up on her bed, and tucking in the covers. And then, for some reason that I still don’t know why, I put my hand on her head and stroked her hair. And that’s when she looked at me, with eyes that seemed so full of fear - so full of terror - eyes that seemed to reach deep into my soul . . .

Give ear to my prayer, O God; And do not hide Thyself from my supplication.
My heart is in anguish within me, And the terrors of death fall upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me; And horror has overwhelmed me.

(Psalm 55: 1, 4 & 5)

As time went on, my fear of working at the home had slipped away. I had grown to care about the ladies who I took care of. I had learned a few words in Polish, and the ladies would laugh as I tried to say them. Each of the ladies seemed to have a story to tell. As I took care of them, I heard about their lives - and the hardships they had lived through. I heard about their husbands and their children, and the loved ones that they had said “goodbye” to. They had lived through a few wars in their lives, and they didn’t talk much about those times. But I always found myself wondering about “her”, and wishing that I knew how to help her. I wondered about her life, and what had caused the terror I saw in her eyes.

Each day that I had to take care of her, I would talk to her. As I fed her, and tried to get her to eat, I found myself just talking about everyday life. I had heard her say a few polish words, so I didn’t think she understood English. But I talked to her anyways. On this day, I told her I was married and I asked her if she had a husband. As I said it, I didn’t expect what happened next. Her hand moved so quickly, as she grabbed my arm. Her grip was so strong, and I didn’t know what to do! I looked into her eyes, hoping I could understand what had happened. She was looking right at me, and the fear had been replaced, with something I didn’t understand. There seemed to be a combination of anger and grief, as she continued to look at me. And then it was gone, and her grip left my arm - and she started to rock, moaning softly to herself. . .

And horror has overwhelmed me. And I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest.”
“Behold, I would wander far away, . . .”
(Psalm 55: 5b, 6, & 7a)

I worked at the nursing home for almost two years. Many of the women who lived there became very special to me. But she got into my heart and soul. I could only find out bits and pieces of what had happened to her. She had been in Poland during the Nazi invasion. She had lost her husband and then her children. But no one seemed to know when or how this had happened. My mind continued to wonder, and then it didn’t matter. All that mattered was to take care of her.

I would brush her hair, and talk softly to her. I never again asked her questions. As time went by, she would eat for me - eating as if she had been starving. I would feed her and continue talking softly. She seemed to answer me, nodding her head at times and opening her mouth. As I got her ready for bed, and tucked her in, I would kiss her on her head. Then one night, I saw a tear. As it rolled down her cheek and onto the pillow, I whispered to her - “It is alright, you are going to be alright . . .”

As for me, I shall call upon God, And the Lord will save me . . . And He will hear my voice. He will redeem my soul in peace - from the battle which is against me, . . .
(Psalm 55: 16 - 18)

As I watched the images on the television, the despair and heartache filled the room. And then the memory of her came flooding back. She had lived a life full of pain and heartache of her own. She had lived during a time in history when terrible things had happened. And then she had gotten to the end of her life, and I met her. I didn’t know if I had helped her - during the last years of her life. But I did know that she helped me. She helped me to understand about caring, and about praying for another person. She taught me to open my heart - reaching out to another who was in pain . . .

Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not”

Terrible things happen to good people. When they do, we all have a choice to make. We can stay afraid, wishing that these things hadn’t happened, or we can care. We can be the person who opens our hearts, and brings God’s love down here, on earth. But we have to make that choice - to care - and to be the one who says: “It is alright, you are going to be alright . . .” as you bring hope into another’s life. When you do - - - this world is changed - forever . . .

Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold your God will come . . . He will save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind will be opened. And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.
Then the lame will leap like a deer. And the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy.
(Isaiah 35: 4 - 6)

Are you willing to care - to feel - to love? Are you willing to change your life - and the lives of so many others - forever? It is my hope that you will say “yes” - to living - to feeling - to loving. It is my hope - that you will say “yes” to the Lord. When you do, this world will be changed forever and ever . . .

“For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity - to give you a future and a hope.”
(Jeremiah 29: 11)

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Abiding Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers
For the next few weeks, my good friend David will be updating the Weekly Word for me, as I recover from surgery. He will be posting some of our favorite Weekly Words, so if you have a favorite, please email us and let us know. Thank you all so much for continuing to visit us and share God's Word, as we see Him alive today with each and every one of us. God bless you! Debbie

Friday, September 09, 2005

Weekly Word for September 9 - 16, 2005

Weekly Word - September 9, 2005

A joyful heart - makes a cheerful face,
But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken.
(Proverbs 15: 13)

He had told me about the tape he had found, and how it had been hidden behind some books in his truck. He had played it all day, finding the music soothing to listen to. It was a tape from many years ago, and a singer we both had known back then. As he mentioned the names of the songs, I wasn’t sure if I knew them. So as I got ready to leave the next day, he went running to the truck to get it. As he handed me the tape, he told me to tell him what I thought about, when I got home that night. I told him I would, as I kissed him goodbye. As I drove away, I pushed in the tape. As the music started, my mind wandered back. The soft sad notes, brought back memories of my “melancholy friend” . . .

There is a time for every event under heaven - - -
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn, and a time to dance.
(Ecclesiastes 3: 1 & 4)

I first met him, when he had been gracious enough to let Jen and I stay in his home. But his wife had made sure that I understood that he had issues with women who left their husbands and children. She wasn’t sure that he would be alright with me living in their house. And so I was very careful when I first met him. I didn’t want to make him uncomfortable, so I tried very hard not to talk about all that I was going through at the time. But he was so nice to Jen and me, and soon I found myself talking to him as if he were a friend. We didn’t talk about deep personal issues, but we talked about simple everyday things. I liked him. I liked who he was, and the quiet caring that I saw while I lived there. As the months went by - I wondered about this man, and the hurts that his wife had told me about. And then Jen and I moved away.

A time to keep, and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together;

(Ecclesiastes 3: 6b & 7a)

It was three years later, when I heard his soft, gentle voice on the phone. His wife had left him, and he didn’t know where to turn, or who to call. He was seeing my partner for counseling - - - but right then, he just needed a friend . . .

But when the heart is sad, the spirit is broken

He had been so broken and so wounded - when his wife had walked out. He had been so full of sadness and loss. As I listened to the music, I heard those feelings again. Feelings I had hoped - - - had been healed . . .

He was only 5 years old, but he was going to have a sleep-over! He was so happy and so excited. It didn’t matter that she was a girl, she was his very best friend in the world! Her name was Debbie, and they played together all the time. So on this day, as they laid on the grass, looking up at the sky - he didn’t have a worry in the world. As they looked at each cloud, they found animals and shapes, and laughed as they talked to each other. And then the day changed, and darkness seemed to overwhelm him, as Debbie was sent away.

She was sent home to her parents, as his own parents continued to fight. He didn’t understand why, but he was being asked questions - that he couldn’t answer. And then she too was gone. His mother had also gone away . . .

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; . . . For my life is spent with sorrow, And my years with sighing;
(Psalm 31: 9 & 10)

The stories and heartache came rushing back, as I continued to listen to the tape. I had hoped and prayed that his heart would be healed - but as I listened to the music, I wondered if it had . . . .

for I am in distress; . . . For my life is spent with sorrow

As he walked into the bible study, his face was drawn and tired. And I remember looking at him, and wishing I could comfort him. He was the man who I had remembered from before, but now he was filled with sorrow. We talked a little, and then the bible study started, and I watched him as he sat quietly in the corner. When the night was about to end, and everyone was milling around and talking, I waited to talk to him before he left. He was leaving, but I wanted to say something, and so I caught his attention. “Call me, whenever you need to” I said. And nodding his head, he left.

That was the beginning of our friendship, our true friendship. The kind that shares heartaches and pain. His life had been so full of losses, that I wondered if he would ever trust anyone again.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, . . . You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.”
(John 16: 20)

After his mother left, the house became much quieter. The fighting and the yelling had ended. And the kids didn’t have to worry about being hit - anymore. But he missed her - - - and he wished she would come back. He was a little boy, who missed his mother, and he didn’t know what to do!

For the next few years, his life continued on. He had his dad, and his grandparents, and his sister and brothers, as well as friends. He knew he was loved! He never doubted it for a day. But still, something was missing inside. Then one day it happened, he didn’t go to school, but took his bike and rode away. He rode, and he rode, and he rode. He was going away - but he didn’t know where. All he knew, was he was heading out of town . . .

That’s where his dad found him, riding on the sidewalk, riding where he had never gone before. His dad didn’t say a word, but took the bike and put it in the car, and then took him with him to work that day. All day, the little boy wondered about the feelings deep inside, and how far away he felt from his heart.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
(Psalm 34: 18)

Loss and pain were part of his life, and he didn’t know what to do with it. So as the years went by, the boy grew older. At 14 he knew he was in love. Her name was Maggie, and he spent all his time at her house. He loved to visit with Maggie’s family, especially with Maggie’s mom. She was always cooking, and always sweet - and he just knew that he loved being with Maggie. And then one day Maggie asked him to go to a church camp - and of course he said he would. At the camp he heard the stories about Jesus - and he decided right then - to follow the Lord.

He dated Maggie for almost 2 years, before they finally broke it off. He still loved her, but she said it was time to move on. Still, he never forgot that feeling that he had when he first fell in love - with Maggie! It stayed buried, deep in his heart.

The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears are open to their cry.
(Psalm 34: 15)

He had given his heart to the Lord. And from that day on, his life was never quite the same. He wanted to find a church, and follow God’s teachings - wherever that happened to be. And so when it was time to go on to college, he chose one that was a Christian college. He wanted to be a pastor, or maybe a missionary - whatever the Lord wanted for his life. But he also wanted “her”. He met her that very first year. And she was pretty and smart - and he knew right away he wanted to date her.

They dated for years, and he left college to follow her. All the way to Connecticut he went. They married a few years later, and soon bought a house. And it was to here, that Jenny and I went to live.

The righteous cry and the Lord hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.
(Psalm 34: 17)

I was in pain, and hurting, and that is how he first met me. I had left my husband and my oldest son - to try to find my life. And still, somehow, we became friends. I knew he had pain, locked somewhere deep inside - but at the time, all I could feel was me. He listened and smiled, and I liked him.

So years later, when he came to that bible study, I knew that I liked him - but he was broken - and hurting - from wounds throughout his life . . .

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, And saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Many are the afflictions of the righteous; But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
(Psalm 34: 18 & 19)

As I listened to the tape, I wondered about Ted’s heart. He had been hurt so many times throughout his life. Did it still hurt? Was he still sad? Was there anything I could do?

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted.”
(Mathew 5: 3 & 4)

He was my “melancholy friend”, as he would listen to sad music and watch sad movies. His heart hurt, and I would listen to him as he told me his stories. As he did, my own heart would hurt as well. I found myself praying for him, begging God to help him. We talked every day, and I found myself listening to him pour out his life to me. And that is when things changed for us. My heart felt his heart - and love started to grow. We wanted so much for the other to be loved - truly loved - forever . . .

And the ransomed of the Lord will return. . . . with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, And sorrow and sighing will flee away.
(Isaiah 35: 10)

When I got home that night, Ted asked me what I thought about the tape. I wasn’t sure what to say. “The songs make me feel sad” I told him. And then I asked him: “Are you still sad?”

And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

As he pulled me in his arms, I could feel his warmth and love. In Ted’s arms, I could feel his heart. Our love had brought so much healing into our own lives. Did he still have hurts? Of course. We all do. I know that my husband is “who” he is, because he has been hurt - as well as been loved - in his life. . I am “who” I am - because I have been hurt in my life as well. But our love, and the Lord, brings healing to our lives every day.

Are there moments of sadness? Yes. Sometimes they are from things that happen now. And sometimes they are from wishing that things had been a little different. Sometimes I wish that my children had known him when they were little - and sometimes I wish that we had been able to have babies of our own. Ted has his own times of “sometimes wishing . . .” But God knows those as well. He knows how to heal our hearts - and answer our “sometimes” wishes . . .

“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned to joy.”

“Whenever a woman is in travail she has sorrow, because her hour has come; But when she gives birth to the child, she remembers the anguish no more, for joy that a child has been born into the world.”

“Therefore you too now have sorrow; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one takes your joy away from you.”
(John 16: 20 - 22)
Our new life, came from being wounded. It was born out of sadness and loss. Many awful things happen in this world. But the Lord knows how to bring healing and Life out of the hurts and pain. Right now, many lives have been changed because of a terrible hurricane. There is so much sadness and loss. But I know that God will heal our hearts - and our land - if we will just ask Him. He is just waiting to heal our wounded hearts . . .

“ your sorrow - will be turned to joy.”

Will you give Him your heart? He knows your hurts and wounds. He is just waiting - - - for you to say yes . . . .

God bless you in the coming week ahead!

In His Amazing Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Weekly Word for September 2 - 9, 2005

Weekly Word - September 2, 2005

Give ear to my prayer, O God; And do not hide Thyself from my supplication.
Give heed to me, and answer me; . . .
My heart is in anguish within me, . . . Fear and trembling come upon me; . . .
(Psalm 55: 1, 4 & 5)

As I watched the television, I couldn’t help but stare at the storm that was about to hit. It was a huge storm, upgraded to a category 5 - the largest and most deadly of storms. They had named her Katrina, a name that sounded so pretty and so light - even though she was so huge and so deadly. People were boarding up their homes and leaving for higher ground. While others who had no way to leave, searched for shelter. As I watched the reports, I felt so afraid for them. Feeling helpless, I started to pray . . .

My heart is in anguish within me, . . . Fear and trembling come upon me; . . . And I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away . . . I would hasten to my place of refuge - From the stormy wind and tempest.”
(Psalm 44: 4 - 8)

It was September of 1985, and a hurricane was bearing down on New England. We hadn’t had one in so many years, that I didn’t even remember what it was like. Mike was 8 and Jen had just turned 4, and they both thought it was a big adventure. We bought flashlights and batteries, and food that we could eat without power. We had water in jugs, and the radio ready, and they really thought this was fun. We had taped all the windows, and picked up the yard - getting ready for the winds and the rain. And then we waited - as the storm headed our way. And I wished I could be like my children. They played and pretended - and were secure in our home. But I was worried - as I hoped and I prayed . . .

Give ear to my prayer, . . . I am restless in my complaint . . . My heart is in anguish within me. (Psalm 55: 1 & 4)

As the winds howled and the rain poured down, the fear inside me grew. I paced our little home, hoping that everything would be alright. As I did, my children continued to play - and their father even fell asleep. I wished that I had the confidence that they did - but I was afraid - and so I waited, and paced - and I hoped, and I prayed . . .

In Thee, O Lord, I have taken refuge; . . . Incline Thine ear to me . . . For Thou art my hope; O Lord God, Thou art my confidence . . .
(Psalm 71: 1, 2, & 5)

Over the years, when there have been times of crisis, times when I was afraid - those are the times when I want my children near me. I want to make sure they are alright. I want to keep them safe. But those are also the times when it is out of my control. And all I can do - is hope and pray . . .

But as for me, I will hope continually, And will praise Thee yet more and more. Oh God, Thou hast taught me from my youth; And I still declare Thy wondrous deeds.
(Psalm 71: 14 & 17)

It was September, 2001 - and the day had started out like any other day. I had made coffee, as Ted got ready for work. I was heading to the hospital that day, as it was my first day of orientation for my new job. I was excited to start it, and so I dressed to impress my boss. Sitting in her office, we started to go over the policies and procedures of the agency. I had a notebook of information she had just handed to me, when a woman went running by the door. “A plane just hit one of the buildings in New York City” she said. And just as quickly she was gone.

As I look back at that day, I remember bits and pieces with such clarity - and the rest just fades away. I remember Sharon’s face, when the woman ran back - telling us that another plane had just hit. I remember wondering what to do, as everyone headed for their computers. I stood looking at the screen, seeing a picture of New York, and smoke coming from the towers. And then I remember searching for Dina, hoping that her son would be safe.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, . . .”
(Isaiah 41: 10)

It was hard not to be afraid that day, September 11, 2001. The day we remember as 9-11. Our country was attacked, by men who chose death - for themselves as well as others. As we watched the images on our televisions, most of us couldn’t help being afraid. Somehow, I left the hospital and drove home. As I did, I called my husband. I wanted to hear his voice. When I got home, I called both my children - needing to hear them as well. And then I worried about Bradd, Dina‘s son - the boy who had become part of my family. No one had heard from him, and he lived right there - so we waited, and we hoped, and we prayed . . .

Bradd was only 17 when I first met him, as he came to pick up my daughter. They were dating, and I wasn’t sure about this boy. I didn’t trust him! But then, I don’t think I would have trusted anyone - with my 16 year old daughter. They dated for over two years, and I got to know this dark haired boy. He was sensitive and artistic, always questioning, and always listening. He seemed to want to know about faith and trust, and about the God that I believed in. And so, over the years, we developed a friendship and a caring that has lasted longer than their romance.

He was going to college at NYU, and he lived just down the road from the business district. He loved the city, and he walked just about everywhere! He loved the people and the energy that the city had. He loved working on plays and going to school there, it was the only place he wanted to be. And so on this day, he had been heading to class, walking down the sidewalk where a group of people were standing. They were staring at the sky, and looking up, and he wondered what they were looking at. And so he stopped, and looked up also, seeing the tower with it‘s antennae leaning slight to the left. And then he saw a plane heading toward the other building, and that’s when he turned and walked away.

It wasn’t until later, that he realized just what he had witnessed - and the shock that he felt, lasted for days. The sidewalk he had stood on, was now covered with ash and debris. And those people he had stood next to, well they had to run for their lives. That night, he finally called - and I cried when I heard his voice. I listened as he told me everything that he had seen. And over and over, I told him how happy I was that he was unhurt - and alive!

That night, as I tried to fall asleep, the pictures from the day kept swirling in my head. All those people who’s lives had been lost, the senseless attacks that left so many injured and dead, all of it kept coming back in my mind. My heart hurt as I thought about it all, and then I began to pray . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! . . . When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, . . . For I am the Lord your God, . . .” (Isaiah 43: 1 - 3)

Do not fear . . . I wish I could say that I didn’t fear - but it seems that I always do. When terrible things happen - I become so afraid - especially for those that I love. That’s when I turn to the Lord. I don’t know what else to do . . . So I pray . . .

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; . . . For I am the Lord your God,”

Katrina had hit, and the destruction was terrible. I couldn’t believe what we were seeing on the news. There was flooding everywhere, and whole towns had been blown away. Many had died, and thousands were now homeless. It was such a huge catastrophe. As we watched the television, my heart hurt - and I wondered how this could have happened. So many had been hoping - so many had been praying - and I wished I knew how to help . . .

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, And though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea . . . The Lord of hosts is with us
(Psalm 46: 1 - 7)

He is with us - - - When I read this passage, I realized it didn’t say that we wouldn’t have troubles. It said “He is with us” helping us through those troubles. It isn’t a perfect world - but one with both “good” and “bad” in it. We all have to face both - in our lives . . .

Though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, . . . The Lord of hosts is with us;

Ted and I watched the movie “Now and Then” the other day. It is a story of friendships in our lives. It is the story of needing friends, to help us with life. In the movie, there was a line that seemed important. It said that in each life - good and bad things will happen. But you can’t wall off your heart because of the bad things - - - you miss out on the good things, if you do.

A few days ago, a bad thing happened to so many people in our country. It was one of the largest storms our country has ever seen. It caused destruction in three states. Hundreds of thousands of peoples lives were changed in just a few hours. Homes were lost, and people died. As I watched it, my heart hurt. And I wondered what I could do. What could one person do in the face of such a huge tragedy? That’s when I realized that we all need each other. We all have faced troubles and losses, in our lives. Some of us have faced tragedies. When we do, it is the arms of those we love, the hands of a friend, the hope that another person gives us - - - that helps us to go on with life.

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16: 33)

Will you be that friend? Right now, at this very moment, you can help. You can reach out to those who’s lives have been devastated by this storm. You can donate your money to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, or other agencies who are already there, to help these people. You can donate your time, if you are able. And there is one more thing you can do. You can pray. You can make the choice to care, to open your heart to another’s hurt. When you do, our world is changed forever.

Will you care about another’s life? Will you choose to open your heart? Will you be the hands and heart of God - - - here on earth?

"I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life. . ."
(Deuteronomy 30: 19)

God bless you in this coming week.

In His Love,
Debbie & Ted Ayers