Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Shepherdess Speaks


 There was a time, not long ago, when I understood that a pair of shoes could be the status symbol of an entire community, the actual measure of a person’s worth

  On a sweltering day in Central America, our mission party squeezed into a 9-passenger van that somehow crammed 15 other people inside, all waiting along the road for a ride. The driver, generous soul that he was, stopped for everyone. Our party was traveling to a commercial banana plantation, a good hour’s drive from the missionary home base.

The van was the usual Central American vehicle; no frills, no air-conditioning with virtually no windows intact. The upholstery was ragged, and if you boarded the van late, seating room was almost nonexistent. Some brave souls hung from the sliding doors, holding tenaciously to the framework of the vehicle. The stranger sitting beside you literally become flesh of your flesh by the time the driver dropped us off on the dirt road leading to the plantation.

We walked some distance on the bicycle path before crossing a rusty metal footbridge spanning a writhing river of muddy water. Recent rains had swollen the river so that looking through the metal webbing at the churning water created a sick dizzy feeling.

Weary and hot, we arrived safely at the center of the banana agricultural industry where a community of workers lived, worked, and quite often never left. Hundreds of acres of banana trees surrounded the central housing area. One could easily be lost in the endless rows of banana plants. By US standards, the condition of this community was definitely below poverty level.

At one end of the village, a waist-high cement pool of water with concrete washboards served as a public laundry. Tired looking women with babies on their hips leaned against the structure scrubbing their dirty clothes.

We walked through the muddy streets, notifying the people that, in one hour, a Bible program would be presented for the children. Our team set up beneath a rickety shelter next to an open field by the school. We unloaded our heavy backpacks and in a short time, a crowd of children and adults arrived from every corner of the village to listen to the gospel message.

The presentation was in simple form so all could easily understand. A backdrop of eager faces, the odors of ripening bananas, and brilliant blue skies, burned a lasting picture in my memory, so vividly poignant with the pathos of poverty and wretchedness, seeing with misty eyes the naked truth of struggling humanity.

After the gospel presentation, we gave small gifts of candy, coloring books, crayons, and a variety of reading material to the children. A sweet-faced boy named Daniel asked if he could tour the missionaries through the primary school and we enthusiastically accepted. After admiring the small but sturdy cement-block building, I asked Daniel why he was chosen as our tour guide.

“Because,” he said looking down at his feet, a warm smile spreading across his face, “because I have shoes.”

Among the many bare feet of the children, I failed to notice that Daniel wore the only pair of shoes. He also sported a belt and a baseball cap, a wealthy lad by community standards. The other children gazed at Daniel with genuine pride. He represented his peers with the best they could hope for—shoes, an item we take for granted, never considering the many children and adults who have none.

The words, “because I have shoes,” still echo in my mind. While searching for a way to supply shoes for barefoot children of the world, I discovered an organization that collects shoes for those who have none. Donate shoes  today.


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The Shepherdess Speaks...

Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name.
Malachi 3:16

When history is written, the writer of your part in this time world—your own story might be logged in with incorrect details. The writer can misspell your name, change a date, or paint your profile according to his perspective. A number of things can change the way history will remember you as an individual. In researching the many notable historic events I describe in my books, I have discovered this to be so.

Each historian presents the subject from a personal viewpoint. Perhaps his vision and even his tone and attitude is skewed by his own political or religious views, his background, where he found himself in the dramatic event, or from information gathered after the event passed into history. However the historical writer presented the account, it is now a written history, based primarily on fact, but biased or fair, incorrect or strictly factual. Knowing this, I often research the historian who wrote the account to see where he fit in the grand scheme of things.

I think—how glad I am that God is keeping my account in his ‘book of remembrance’. How fair and unbiased He is, how true and accurate my story will be read. All details will be correct, no attitude or tone will skew the final record. History may view events and people from their own perspective, but God keeps the only true historic account of our life. To know this is extremely comforting. I desire to be a blessing that my life may count for God in my chosen place in time.

When history is read, what will it say about your one and only life? Make it count for God!



Friday, September 21, 2012

Lamentations 3:22-23

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness

Home again and catching up. The early weeks of September, I spent at Wildrose Cottage, attending a book event and Civil War 150th year Memorial Re-enactment, spending time with family, and visiting the farm. Wright was in Central America, overseeing a mission work there. We left the same day on separate planes; he flying south to another country, me flying north to our summer cottage.

I love the September mornings when the sun rises in the east, filtering through the trees and painting splotches of sunlight on my garden at Wildrose. I take my Bible, devotional and my journal to the deck off the kitchen. There I watch the mooring creep over the ravine to shine down on our cottage. This is a good time to pray, to remember that God’s compassion is new every morning and that He cares what happens to me, to His people, to all mankind.  

The new lattice in the east garden. I planted a 'sweet autumn" clematis just before I left Wildrose Cottage. It will look nice next spring. I plan to plant tulip and iris and other bulb plants before winter.


Still enjoying the roses in the west flower bed. The color of this variety is so vivid but the thorns are sticky. The contrast of beauty and pricks gives us something to think about

A favorite Vase

 September evening...and missing him
*To view more photos of  the 150th year Civil War Memorial Event, go to "My Ancestors, My Story at the top of this  page

The Shepherdess

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Shepherdess Speaks...

Raising Sons...

Raising Sons…

During the Republican National Convention, I was touched by several “mother and son” stories presented during the convention. Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s tribute to his mother, who, after her husband’s death when Paul was only sixteen, discovered a way to make a good life for her family. Each morning she rode the bus to Madison to obtain an education in small business. At age 50, she launched her own business and has been an inspiring success story. Her son, Paul Ryan, Congressman from Wisconsin, gave a loving tribute to her courage and strength as she faced the future days. Bright tears shone in Mom’s eyes as Paul smiled fondly from the speaker’s platform.

Raising sons…what an awesome task! This mother/son relationship forms a deep and abiding attachment that only the two can understand. A true mother will teach her son to be strong and courageous, to lead, to be self sufficient and responsible, to be fair and honorable with all people, and to know that love and tenderness do not make a man weak, but rather, raise him to the image that God has intended. To raise a son is to raise a potential leader, perhaps a president or a humble pastor, but always a man worthy of his mother’s teaching.

When our own son still lived at home before moving to another state, I found this bit of prose and claimed it for him. It is the prayer of my heart—of every mother who raises a son, and then hands him back to God.

Lord, nothing I can say will be enough
to keep him at my side,
And when the way grows long and steep and rough,
Be thou his guide.

My love would hold him close,
But distance calls;
The far horizon's rim beckons from
Beyond the shelter of these wall -- Remember him.

Your mother knew the anguish, sudden, brief,
That makes these eyes go blind with woman’s tears;
and You understood the grief of all mankind.
Remember him.

You were a young man once…in Nazareth,
Now I must forego his secret thoughts,
His dreams of life and death,
But You will know.

This is the end: the work of heart and hand—
The mother’s task—all done,
But surely with the one who understands,
I leave my son.

Helen Frazee-Bower