Answered Prayers


Prayer works.

I was getting bored and frustrated with random reading.  There’s too much dystopia in the bookstores these days, don’tcha think. What happens when the lights go out?  Or an asteroid hits the moon? Or the rapture comes and I’m Left Behind?  I get enough dystopia just reading the newspaper every day.

It’s depressing.  Vampires, shmampires. It seems like everyone is trying to write the next The Twilight Series. Yawn.  “What does this have to do with prayer,” you ask? Hold your horses.  I’m getting to that.

I did enjoy Justin Cronin’s The Passage and The Twelve (Book Two of The Passage Trilogy).  It’s quite different from the usual smarmy vampire romance. The characters are interesting and engaging.  Enough interesting things happen and with cliffhangers at the end of every chapter the story keeps rolling along. What will happen in book three I wonder.  (Hurry up Mr. Cronin!)

Now that’s done and I need a new fictional fix.   I’m craving something without vampires for a change.  There’s a certain kind of story that just makes you feel good. Hmmmm.

Here’s my list of feel-good favorites that I turn to when I’m burned out.  Like Mom’s baked macaroni and cheese, they’re comfort food for the brain.
The Hero and the Crown & The Blue Swordby Robin Mckinley.  I can never get enough of these two stories.
Dances With Wolves 
Watership Down
Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
Random Harvest, by James Hilton

I found myself standing in front of my bookshelf, looking at this collection.  I wasn’t really in the mood to re-read any of them, but wanted something like them. I prayed a little prayer and it trickled up to heaven. I prayed quietly, so silently that I almost didn’t hear it myself, feeling guilty that I wasn’t praying for something more providential, like ending world hunger, or for an end to human trafficking. (That’s whole ‘nother post.)

Somebody upstairs must have been listening. (Maybe Saint Catherine of Alexandria, patron saint of libraries?)  While browsing the online audio book collection of my local I found an available copy of The Hollow Hills (Book 2 of The Arthurian Saga by Mary Stewart).

After a quick download on the Overdrive Media Player app, I started listening to it on my commute.  I could tell right away that this would be another of those feel-good favorites. But I really hate to start a series in the middle (pesky spoilers).  Book 1, The Crystal Cave, was not on audio.  Eager to start at the beginning, I checked out a really beat up first edition (1970) hardback from the library.

Yep, it’s an answer to prayer. It’s not even Christmas yet, and God has given me a personalized gift of love, a new book by a new author, custom made for me.

In my devotional this morning I read,
“Without God’s love, there is no way to establish [a foundation for a true family]. Without God’s love, there is no way for us to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. Love is truly the source and wellspring of our life and happiness.”Exposition of the Divine Principle

I have received many answers to prayer over the years. They are usually related to work or mission.  More like a, “Let’s get this job done,” kind of answer (James 2:18); a soldier’s marching orders.  But this answer was special, because it was purely unconditional, from God’s heart of love to my heart.

I want to abide in Your heart of love always,
To be inundated, overcome,
Swept away by that sweet love.
No agenda,
Just Your loving presence.
With every beat of my heart,
Every breath I take.
Every day fresh and new.
Every morning amidst the sparkling dew.
Soak my feet with Your love as I walk barefoot in the grass.
Freshen me and breathe me in,
as I breathe You in
to dwell in the altar of my heart.

Memories of Mom – the Elephant and the Mouse


When I was four years old my family moved into a big yellow house on 98th Avenue in Oakland California. That’s me on the right, Mom, my big sister in the middle and my little bro on the left in Daddy’s arms.

I checked out 98th avenue on the street view in Google Maps and discovered that our house is still there, pretty much unchanged except for the color.

The Oakland Zoo was just three or four blocks further up the hill from our house.  Mom would take my brother and I up the hill to the Zoo. I remember the high point of each trip was to stop and say, “Hi”, to Essie the Elephant.  This was back in the day when you could still feed the animals.  Mom would buy a brown paper bag of peanuts and let us feed Essie.  We’d toss the peanuts over to her.  Essie would swing her trunk down and gently pick up the peanuts and put them in her mouth one by one.  We got such a kick out of it.  I’m sure we bugged Mom constantly to let us go to the zoo to see the elephant.  I don’t remember any other animals at the zoo, just Essie the Elephant.

I have lots  of warm and fuzzy memories from this house, like Dr. Seuss books,the big walnut tree beside the house and the greenhouse in the back yard.  I discovered comfort food in this house, Campbell’s Bean with Bacon Soup,Campbell’s Black Bean Soup, which they don’t make any more, darn!  I was able to find Campbell’s Soup – Black Bean, c.1968 Art Poster Print by Andy Warhol on Amazon.com for illustration purposes. Mom used to make the yummiest grilled cheese sandwiches with Roman Meal Bread.

 

I remember the backyard of the house had more gardens than grass.  There was a sidewalk that ran up the side of the house and across the back yard, under a trellis to a gate that opened out onto a hill covered with tall grass and fox-tails.

There was also a huge greenhouse on the south side of the yard.  We really weren’t supposed to play in there, but I remember sneaking in with my cousin sometimes. This is a picture of me on my tricycle, so cool in my cowboy hat.  This was eons before Big Wheels.

A few odd memories of Mom surface when I close my eyes and imagine that house.  One time, early on a Sunday morning, we heard Mom scream bloody murder and the whole family came running to see what was the matter.  We were all still in our PJs.  Mom had surprised a mouse in the kitchen.  Dad got a baseball bat and chased the mouse around the kitchen trying to hit it with the baseball bat.  The memory of a manly husband doing his duty to gallantly defend his family from this scary wild animal burned an indelible image on my psyche.