Idn’t God Good

20170304_173539-1-1Fifteen years ago, God began to channel a spark He’d placed in me even before I was born. I had been acting all my life (just ask my brothers), when a life-changing event came my way. My pastor asked if I would create a skit for a series he was preaching on The Ten Commandments. I jumped at the opportunity and soon came up with world traveling Bible teacher, Ellendean Love to instruct the congregation. In the years since I have taught God’s Word through a variety of characters—all mighty women of  God. However, Ellendean stands out.

Note: If this dialect is foreign to you, it might be helpful to read it out loud. Ellendean hails from the hills of Kentucky, and she definitely has her very own style.

 *  *  *

A while back I was sittin’ on my back porch in Fox Holler. You know, we’re in a valley–rollin’ hills, quiet, real peaceful, an’ there’s plenty a birds sangin’ their songs back an’ forth. So perty! It’s the most perfec’ place to hear from The Lord. What a praise!

Anyway, I was mindin’ my own business when alla sudden the word sustain came to me. Now, I been studyin’ the Bible a long time, so when a particular word pops into my mind I’ve learned to pay attention to it. I say, God’s tryin’ to tell me somethin’ here, an’ I do not wanna miss it.

Well, when I got out my Bible to find that word sustain in a verse, there were a ton of ‘em. Seems God keeps Hisself perty busy keepin’ us keepin’ on. Truth is, I didn’t use my book Bible. No, I used that cell phone a mine. What a wonder! Never thought I’d ever git the hang a that thang, but now I don’t know what I’d do without it. Technology is fascinatin’, idn’t it?

Anyway, gotta a good app on there (I believe that’s short for application) with all kinds ways to explore the Bible. Like all those different ways to say the same thang? It’s crazy! Ever’body has their own idea about that. Those translations. Big word! Anyway, that Bible thang on my phone sure is a handy way to study the Bible!

So here’s the verse the Lord showed me:

“The Eternal sustains all who stumble on their way.

For those who are broken down, God is near.

He raises them up in hope.”

(Psalm 145:14 – The Voice Translation)

Now in that Voice Bible they call God “The Eternal.” That’s kinda intrestin’, cuz that name fits Him, don’tcha thank? He is eternal…been here always an’ He’s gonna go on forever an’ ever. You know?

So, anyway, I thought, Well, that’s encouragin’, Lord! Thanks! But I knew I wadn’t done yet. So, I looked up sustain in my thesaurus. Now there’s a honey of a word—tells you all kinds a words that mean the same thang as the one yer lookin’ up. WOW!

Well, the list went on an’ on, an’ since God is God, He dudn’t play fav’rits. So, believers, what’s true for me is true for you. Our Great God is well able to sustain us, which means he can:

aid, approve, assist, back, bankroll, befriend, bolster, brace, buoy, carry, comfort, confirm, convey, defend, endorse, favor, feed, foster, go for, help, nourish, nurse, nurture, preserve, prolong, prop, provide, ratify, relieve, save, stand by, stick up for, supply, support, tote, transfer, transport, uphold, validate and verify

Now, here’s the kicker. Read that list again, but this time add “me” after every one of those words. Didja do it? Take your time. Go ahead.

Lookee there! We sure do need Our Lord to sustain us, don’t we? An’ look at all the ways He does that! Well, bless you! An’ bless me! I hope yer smiling. That is some GOOD NEWS!

Idn’t God Good?

 

The Championship Day

Timber Creek

Most every morning I sit on my porch, looking out over the neighboring golf course—enjoying the morning show. Today, a hawk is perched high on the tiptop of a dead branch, while a black bird is traipsing across the 11th hole. Sadly, the unseasonable lack of rain has left the tops of the palm trees a dull shade of brown. But I take heart. Florida’s summer rain is bound to come, and when it does all browns will turn to glorious shades of green.

The world is waking up on this blue-sky, puffy-cloud day with a tribe of frogs still partying after an all-night fest—yak-yakking to the dawn in their native tongue, croakese. Into this symphony comes the persistent hammering of builders down the street as they assemble a grand hotel that will provide a home away from home for its well-heeled guests. And right in front of me a red-headed woodpecker drills for food in the branches of the dead tree that hangs over the creek. He jerks in starts and stops, then looks down. AHA! He dives in. Breakfast!

As if to punctuate this scene, a burst of wind jostles the giant chimes that hang overhead. What a perfect way to ring in this day—a championship one at that!

 

Celebrating Daddy

Daddy

Today, I’m celebrating my father not only because it’s Father’s Day, but it’s also the 102nd anniversary of his birth! We lost him in his 76th year, but time has not diminished the profound influence he had on the lives of my two older brothers and me.

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Norman Lee Harper was raised in the town of Charleston in southeast Missouri’s Bootheel region—bordered by the Mississippi River. With the exception of four years in the Navy during WWII when he served as an electronics instructor in Chicago and San Francisco, his home was always Charleston. In 1945, he met and married my city-girl mother, and brought her back to his small town to raise their family—Bob, Bill and me.

One of the highlights of our young lives was the summertime fun of our family vacations.  One year we had a snowball fight in July on top of Pike’s Peak. The next, we witnessed a mountain goat high in George Washington’s eye at Mount Rushmore!  On still another trip we rode on the backs of Oklahoma’s giant turtles.

But no matter where our final destination happened to be, we usually started our trips with a visit to Chicago—my mother’s hometown. In later years I realized that their love for that great metropolis was probably due to the fact that they had met, courted and married there. It was their “City of Romance!”

Buckingham Fountain

What an exhilarating place—especially for kids from a town of just over 5,000!  And nowhere was that excitement more thrilling for me than at Buckingham Fountain, smack dab in the middle of Grant Park. The vast expanse of green was nestled between Chicago’s mighty skyscrapers and its watery boundary, Lake Michigan.

My father and I would go there to share our favorite pastime—watching people and making up stories about them. Daddy could be amazingly accurate, like the time he asked, “See that man over there—the one with the gray hair, holding a pink rose?” he paused to give me time to spy the guy.

“Got him!” I squealed.

“I’ll bet he’s waiting for his high school sweetheart.  See, they married other people a long time ago and have been separated for many years. But both of their mates have died now, and they’ve decided to meet because secretly they never stopped loving each other.”

Taught by the master himself, I threw in, “And during their phone conversation to set up this meeting she told him she’d be wearing a pink dress.  That’s why his rose is pink!”  We laughed and waited patiently.

Sure enough, ten minutes later, a lady with silver hair tied up in a neat bun entered the fountain area. And she was wearing a pink dress! The man saw her coming in the distance and began to move quickly toward her.  When they finally met they stood for several minutes staring at one another, then talked for a few more minutes before falling into each other’s arms.

Daddy laughed and slapped his knee.  “What did I tell you?”  Then he added, “And look,” he said proudly, “she’s got on a pink dress just like you said she would!”

Some of our stories were brief, some went on and on, but all were affectionate homespun tales that kept us entertained.  I can think of no greater gift a parent could give their children than the desire to cultivate their imaginations.

So, Happy Father’s Day and Happy Birthday, Daddy! I celebrate you and thank God He picked you to be my earthly father. I am a storyteller today because you took great delight in sharing your passion for spinning yarns with me. And to think, it all began at that multi-leveled, ever-showering fountain so long ago.

 

After Irma

Irma

Last September my world was rocked by one of the most massive hurricanes in history. As Irma came barreling down, The Weather Channel delivered a bleak report. No Floridian would escape its force. Too terrified to sit down and write in the moment, I took time in the aftermath to pen a letter.

September 16, 2017

Dear God,

Leaving Georgia tomorrow…thanking You as I go that Hurricane Irma is over, and that no one I know had any significant damage. I pray for those who were injured or impacted in any way, and ask that they be strengthened by Your divine mercy and grace.

Living with Tampa Bay in my backyard, I had planned to stay with friends who were further inland, but last Saturday morning a nudge from You jolted me into action. Suddenly, I knew I had to evacuate. As I rushed to pack, my mind took me through rapid-fire scenarios. There they were, faith and fear, battling it out in my mind. At times it felt like I was running for my life—breathless with adrenalin.

Then, there would be faithful certainty that You could do anything—even turn the tide of a killer storm. Jesus had done it in the Bible, and years earlier, as another great tempest appeared to have Florida’s Gulf Coast in its crosshairs, a slight shift from You at the last possible moment sent Tropical Charlie hurtling inland.

This time, with Irma’s force imminent, the news was horrifying. Anticipating winds of up to 150 miles per hour, I had no idea if I would even have a home when I returned. You find out what’s truly important when you have to gather what could be your only remaining possessions. And yet pockets of peace began to settle in.

I asked myself, What is truly important? My faith in You topped the list. I knew that You had given me life and the ability to live in such a way that others could see Jesus in and through me. Second only to You were my family and friends. I hoped they knew how very grateful I was for their love and support.

Oddly enough, I was grateful for strangers. Whenever we would pull in for food or gas while inching our way up 1-75, I gave away smiles to the many You put in my path. I wanted them to know that in spite of the fact that we did not know each other personally, we were held together by a mighty bond—our humanity.

We were all alive in that moment, breathing in and out, no matter where we were, what we were doing or what surrounded us. No matter what we thought, said or did, we were alive, right then and there. I thought, Wouldn’t it be grand if we could set aside our differences to embrace the truth: we humans are all imperfect and ever so fragile. Whether we know it or not, we all long to be connected.

You have my heart,

Kay

*  *  *

September 17, 2017

Oh, Lord,

I’m home now. The storm is gone. As Florida’s famous sunshine floods the scene, I am blessed by Your great mercy—blessed to be alive in Your abundant love and grace. Please don’t ever let me take that for granted.

*  *  *

A crisis often brings out the best in us. Hurricane Irma was no exception. My heart breaks for the innocent victims of its fury. Thankfully, most of us lived through the days of roaring wind, torrential rain and the eerie silence in between.

Although the memory of Irma may fade with time, I pray the lesson will live on. Sometimes it takes the sky falling (literally) to teach us how to take hold of each other, and to know, without question, the gift and goodness of life with You.

Gravity Has Its Way

Gravity PicThe Christian’s body is a temple because the Holy Spirit lives there. This truth can be life-saving if we glance in the mirror and, staring back at us is the image of someone we barely recognize.

Let’s face it. Past a certain age, like it or not, gravity has its way—leaving us not only shorter, but wondering, Oh my goodness, what’s the deal with my arms–that jiggling skin? Then we look down and see that our thighs have bunched up just north of our knees.

It’s not pretty, but it’s just one of those things. We don’t like it, but the good news is we can choose our reaction and either be graceful and accept life’s changes, or drive ourselves crazy trying to deny the evidence of our ever-advancing years. Thankfully, the wisdom gained from the passage of time is the great leveler. Being at home in our own skin (even if it jiggles) is the healthy perspective that makes our lives flow.

Take heart. No matter what the state of our bodies, we’re still breathing—loving, learning and growing to be more than we were. And the gravity that takes its toll on our bodies here on Earth is the same force that prevents us from floating into space where we would drift into oblivion.

Now here’s a word for the younger generation. You’re not here yet, but someday when you get past that certain age you will be. And when that happenings you’ll be shouting, “Hey! How does this happen?” And those of us who’ve crossed over to the acceptance side will speak softly, “Yes, it’s lousy, but it is what it is. Relax. You can’t change it.”

The truth is (barring outstanding genes, the nip/tuck of plastic surgery or grueling exercise) no one escapes gravity’s pull. It always has its way.

“Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who comes from God and dwells inside of you?…” 1 Corinthians 6:19 (The Voice Translation)

God’s Got This

Oh, No! I’ve lost my job! They’re not renewing my contract! What’ll I do! That was the scream inside my mind on that freaky Friday as the assistant principal closed the door behind her, and with sad eyes said, “There’s really no easy way to say this.”

A chill went through me—top to toes. Then, I recalled a staff meeting a couple of months back when the principal had said something about making cuts, but I never thought I would be one of them. I was grateful now that I hadn’t spent a single moment worrying about it.

In shock, I said, “Wow! I am completely blind-sided. Never saw this coming. I mean, nine people were hired after me. I thought I was safe.”

“Well, we’re making some changes,” she said with a weak smile.

Then, I blurted out, “I hope it’s not anything I’ve done.”

“No, no!” she said as she sat at her paper-free desk. “We won’t be replacing you. We just need to spread out personnel to fill the positions of those we let go.”

Hmmm, I thought. Let go! Now there’s a confusing statement. Doesn’t that imply that I want to go, so they are letting me? Hmmm.

I exited her office spouting the philosophical phrase, “Well, when one door closes another one opens. I truly believe that.”

“I love your attitude!” She looked me in the eye and smiled. This time it was genuine.

I went home that day with the numbness that follows gut-wrenching news. Of little comfort was the fact that I was not alone.  This tsunami had already swept in and carried away a few, but it wouldn’t subside until at least fifteen teachers and staff members had joined me in a boat set sail for the door.

I spent the weekend twirling in an emotional whirlpool—grieving over the children I would no longer get to hug and help, mentally wringing my hands over income and insurance lost, journaling away my confusion, anger and self-pity and crying out to God, “Why me?”

He didn’t leave me in that sea of despair for long. His answer came floating in on a brilliant ray of hope. “Why not you? Don’t you know I’ve got this? I’m going to open doors that only I can open—doors that only you can walk through. Just wait.”

Now, as I’m writing this one of my favorite scriptures is flooding over me:

Forget about what’s happened; don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it? There it is!
I’m making a road through the desert, rivers in the badlands.
(Isaiah 43:18-19 – The Message)

Inside the sacred place where peace reigns, I am breathing a sigh of relief. Ahhhh. God’s got this! He knows me. He knows my needs. I look forward to watching Him work the miraculous. Yes, fleeting moments of angst may come and go, but my faith has the final say, and it says, “God IS Big! Bigger, so, so much BIGGER than THIS!” So, here goes!

Listen. Can you hear it? That’s me singing, “Row, Row, Row Your Boat…”

About Kay Harper

About Kay

Christian Comedienne Kay Harper carries The Joy of the Lord as she celebrates the greatness of our God and His Holy Word. She is an actress, author, speaker and teacher who the Lord has anointed to bring Bible-based, audience-participation skits to the young, old and everyone in between. Her original, colorful characters, all mighty Women of God, teach the Bible with a flair for the ridiculous and profound.

Kay lived a prodigal’s life for many years before returning to the Lord 16 years ago. During that turbulent time God prepared her to let go of her will and all that had come against her to embrace the grace to be who He had made her to be—a joy builder with a heart for setting the captives free.

Kay is the author of Stumbling into Grace, A Prodigal Daughter’s Long Journey Home, a testimonial tale of just how far God let her go out, then like the Israelites, brought her into His Promised Land of love, mercy and grace. Through faith, she has triumphed over depression and abuse to become a founding member of The Joy Girls, a Christian study/action group in the Gulf Coast region of Florida dedicated to developing skills that build joy in relationships. She is on The Joy Girls Team, ministering to women in halfway houses as they step into faith and new Christ-centered lives and is a facilitator of JoyBuilders.101 taken from Restarting, a module of Life Model Works.

Kay is dedicated to the call the Lord has on her life. “I never know what God has in store for me, but I believe He’s always (in all ways) up to good! He’s seldom early, but He’s never late, and it’s never too late to make things right with the One who created you. Press on. Jesus has the best and brightest purpose and plan for each of us. Our job is to
get out of the way and let Him be our guide. What does God have prepared for you? It’s time to seek and celebrate Him!”

“I believe God loves to hear our laughter
almost as much as He loves for us to know His Word.”  Kay HarperSIG cover