First Responder

Lincoln and candle


“Now I lay me down to sleep,

I pray the Lord my soul to keep,

God bless Mommie and Daddy,

And Garry and Gayle and Gregg,

And keep us safe from the communists.”


and keep us safe from the communists?


I was a freshman in college and we were sitting around one night talking (as we often did) and the subject came up about memorized prayers. (those late night talk sessions covered a vast array of topics) Several of us started reciting our bedtime prayers from childhood and when I said the last line from my prayer, we all stated to laugh.

Where did “keep us safe from the communists” come from?

I had no idea. I hadn’t thought of that prayer in years. So I went to the source of all things childhood and asked my mother.

“It was the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion and your older brother was concerned about communists invading our country. I suggested he pray about it, so he did. Of course you and Gregg copied his prayer,” my mom informed me.

I have two thoughts about that prayer looking back –

  1. when global events concern us  – pray about them
  2. where is the communist threat now?

If we are paying any attention to global events right now – there is certainly cause for concern. There are threats to peace and security on every continent, some are the most brutal threats I can remember in my lifetime. There is little we can do as ordinary citizens about these concerns – there is even less a child can do.

This can bring fear into our lives and fear into the lives of our children and grandchildren.

We can pray.

Not only is that enough, that is the most important thing we can do. God is in control even when things appear to be in chaos. These awful situations are the result of sin. Mankind’s desire to be in control leads ultimately to death and destruction.

Prayer does change things, most of all it changes us. Prayer adjusts our focus from suffering to the Lord God who loves us and gives help in time of trouble.

Philippians 4: 6-7  (TLB)

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. 7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.

I love these verses. God’s peace is FAR more wonderful than the human mind can understand! The peace comes from trusting  in Christ Jesus, not in our ability to fix things ourselves.

Our daughter’s pastor encouraged us to ask ourselves what our first response is to concerns we face. Do we worry, call a friend, get angry? Our FIRST response should be to pray.

It made me think about first responders to disasters like earthquakes, fires, or floods. Those are the people who arrive on the scene first, assess the situation, and then determine a plan of action.

I realized how much better my response to any concern would be if I prayed first – asking God what my plan of action should be. Prayer centers my vision on God and His will for me in every situation – big or small. Then I should determine my response.

I want to be a first responder when it comes to prayer – pray first – then act. I want to model that for my children and grandchildren as well.


Don’t Look Down!


I am not afraid of snakes or spiders. I don’t mind small places or thunder and lightning. I enjoy roller coasters and flying in airplanes.

I DON’T like to see people I love on the edge of high places.

I can literally feel my heart pound and my blood pressure rise when Phil is on a high ladder which he tends to do more often than I like to think. He washes windows and has painted our house which has places three stories up. He has patched the roof on the barn suspended from two ladders roped together. He cleans out the gutters removing leaves in the fall and seeds in the spring. All of these activites require climbing ladders.

He has asked me to hold the ladder while he assends or decends and I can only close my eyes and pray.

Phil doesn’t have a problem with doing these tasks up in the air because his focus is on his job, not the height. I have trouble watching because I am focusing on the “what if……”.

Jesus faced this same issue with His disciples.

Matthew 14:25-33 (NLT)

25 About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!”
27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”
28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”
29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.
31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”
32 When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped. 33 Then the disciples worshiped him. “You really are the Son of God!” they exclaimed.

As long as Peter kept his eyes on Jesus, he was walking on the water. As soon as he looked down, he began to sink.

The same thing happens to me. As soon as I take my eyes off Jesus, I sink. I allow fear to control my thoughts. I worry about what others think, or what tragedy might occur.

I allow self pity or feelings of inadequacy to control me when I take my eyes off Jesus and look down at the circumstances around me.

As a mother it is so easy to allow worry and fear to creep in and control my thoughts and eventually my actions. I must learn to keep my eyes on Jesus – the author and finisher of my faith.

Hebrews 12:1-3(NLT)

12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. 2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. 3 Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up.

I just noticed that Phil has put the ladder up against the side of the house near the gutter down spout……I better re-read this……

Scary Things


All testimonies are not sweetness and light. In fact, as I get older, I have become suspicious of those who share only victories, blessings, and triumphs. Now, I do believe that God blesses His children. I believe that God answers prayer and has a plan for my good. But I am suspicious of those who only share the positive occurrences in their lives. I am suspicious because even Jesus “learned obedience through the things He suffered.” What makes me think that I am exempt from suffering? In fact, Jesus says in John 16:33 -“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (emphasis mine)

So – as long as I live in this world – I will have times of trouble. BUT, take heart. In other words, be encouraged. Not that everything will always go my way, but that there is no darkness where God is.

Our grandchildren wanted night lights in the bedrooms when they stayed with us over Thanksgiving. The unknown of the darkness caused them to be afraid. Once that faint, but visible night-light shown, they were able to feel safe and fall asleep.

Kathy, a friend who has been real, honest, and transparent shared a powerful testimony Sunday. It wasn’t about a victory, a blessing, or a triumph. It was the reality that when we face the scary things that can paralyze us with fear – God is light in the darkness. Situations are scary because we know the consequences can be devastating – even life threatening. There is reason for the fear we feel. Yet God wants to shine His light in those dark corners of doubt and fear. He wants to illuminate those circumstances in such a way that we can see Him in the midst of our circumstances.

Kathy encouraged us to see God in our scary situations. She shared this Scripture:

Isaiah 54:17

 No weapon forged against you will prevail,
    and you will refute every tongue that accuses you.
This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord,
    and this is their vindication from me,”
declares the Lord.

When, not if, we face those scary situations, may we remember –

1 John 1:5(NIV)

5 This is the message we have heard from Him and declare to you: God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all.