Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A stock car racing woman and a great big God

 Marcia Moston

As a writer for the Journey, Christian newspaper, I get to interview some of the remarkable men and women God positioned here in the upstate to accomplish his purposes. The stories they tell of the modern day marvels and miracles God brought about to provide for their ministries when all else looked grim encourage and delight me.

God is just so not stodgy. He puts together the most unlikely of companions and circumstance.

For example, there’s the story Reid Lehman, CEO of Miracle Hill, SC largest provider of homeless services, tells in his book God Wears His Own Watch about Louise Smith, fearless stock-car racing woman.

Louise’s spirited reputation for fast driving and outrunning the police on the back roads of South Carolina caught the attention back in the 40s of racing promoter Bill France. France was looking for ways to fire up interest in what would become NASCAR. Although Louise had never been to a race either as a spectator or a participant, France convinced her to enter one at the local speedway. Her instructions: Drive fast. Stop if you see a red flag. 

No one told her to stop and go to the pit if she saw a checkered flag though. So when she rounded the track, coming in third place, and saw a checkered flag, she kept on going. It wasn’t until someone waved a red flag that they were able to pull her in.

Another popular story about her is about the time she borrowed her husband’s new Ford coupe and drove down to Daytona to “watch” the races. Apparently the temptation from the sidelines was too great so Louise entered the race and ended up wrecking the car. When she got home she told her husband the car had broken down. Thing was, the news had already made it home and the picture of her and her husband’s wrecked car were on the front page of the paper he held in his hand.

Known for both her speed and her feisty spirit, Louise Smith went on to become a legend on the track and was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.

According to Reid Lehman, Louise had another passion, and that was to help establish a home for needy children. She had noted the changed lives in some of the boys who used to steal from her husband’s auto salvage yard, but who now, under the care of the Children’s Home, were growing and learning.

Problem was, the Home was filled beyond capacity—some of the boys had to sleep in the back of a truck! So when Louise saw the effort to build a new facility, she took it upon herself to provide the concrete block.

She somehow managed to get a spot on the TV show “Queen for a Day” (Oh how I faintly but fondly remember seeing whoever was chosen from the audience get cloaked and crowned and imagined my mom!)

Lehman writes that when the game show host asked Louise what she wanted to win, she said, “Concrete block to build a Children’s Home back in South Carolina.” 

And in true Louise Smith style, “She returned to Greenville with funds to buy all the block needed for the building.”—Lehman.

Don’t you love it!

A ministry in dire need of housing + A stock car racing woman+ A pilfered salvage yard+ A queen for a day TV show+ Concrete for a new home=

An outrageously wonderful God.

So hoping someone out there today will take heart and be assured as the psalmist says, I know the Lord hears when I call. Psalm 4:3

Blessings abundant,


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A very present help in time of trouble -Marcia Moston

I’ll give you this—a dog has an impressive sense of smell. They have tens of thousands more receptors than we do, even two different passageways that separate the air they breathe from the air they smell. By some accounts, they can sniff out a teaspoon of sugar in the amount of water it takes to fill two Olympic-sized pools. Or, according to James Walker, former Director of the Sensory Research Institute, if smell were sight, what we can see at 1/3 mile, a dog can see at 3,000 miles.

But the facts still don’t negate the miracle.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Life Interrupted? Or Life Lived?

I used to multi-task well. It was a handy ability for a woman who wanted to read every book, and who thought every adventure an equal opportunity worth pursuing. A renaissance woman of sorts—I knew a little bit about a lot of things.

So when the Christian school in my town expanded to include a high school, but suddenly found themselves without an English teacher the weekend before school opened, someone recommended me. (Mind you, I had never taken an education course, and although I read a lot and was probably the only person in town who remembered with fondness her seventh-grade exercises in diagraming sentences, I had a degree in sociology, not English.)

It was bold of the school board to offer me a contract after interviewing me that Saturday night.  But that’s one of the beauties of a Christian based organization—even when things seem contrary, they can trust God with the response to their prayerful petition.

And God—well, when he gives you a gift, he makes a way for it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

On a day the snow had fallen

I thought it a peculiar obit: “He went down and struck a lion in a pit on a day the snow had fallen. And he struck down an Egyptian, a handsome (impressive) man”—2 Sam. 23:20-21. 

Now understand—I usually do my morning devos curled up in my chair with cup of coffee and simple Bible translation—not with a huge study Bible or expository reference. So this cursory reading about one of David’s mighty men was a bit befuddling.

 I could see the mention of Adino’s slewing of eight hundred at a time, or Eleazar’s perseverance in wielding his sword, in spite of weariness. And I marked the verse about Shammah’s taking his stand alone in a plot of lentils, to think about another time.

But, it was the expression, “On a day the snow had fallen,” that caught my attention. Why on earth had the Lord chosen to have it included in the account of Benaiah’s life? It sounded so lyrical, lovely— fat wet snowflakes and glittery snow covered field.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A banana and a muffin and a happy family

  Sigh. Perhaps the time has come to stop chucking all those flyers for hearing aids in the trash. A recent conversation with my husband went like this:

Bob: “Was there any mail today?”
Me: “Just a Humana (our insurance) and a nothing (junk).”
Bob frowns, cocks head quizzically. “A banana and a muffin?”

Now, we’ve been married long enough that I’m used to this sort of response, but it does make me wonder what our conversations will be like in the next stage of lives. Maybe we’ll just happily carry on in our own little universes spun from what we thought we heard, nodding in agreement. “Yes, a banana and a muffin.”

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The New Story: "Oh, My Poor Villain"

I had always thought life first as a story—and if there is a story, there is a storyteller.”—G. K. Chesterton

Here goes charging into waters that are probably over my head. So, I preface with a disclaimer:

  • This is not a literary analysis of the intrigue and value of an antihero in a story.
  • This is not a witty movie critique.
  • It is not a denial of the power of the past to influence and inform the present.
  • And it is certainly not a denial of redemption—even for the most villainous of us—or of the power of love.

This is, however, a warning. I’m concerned we (all of us, Christians included) are enjoying our skate on a glittery lake and ignoring the warning sign: Danger-thin ice. The ice looks pretty solid to us, so we skate on, oblivious to the melting beneath our feet.

And this is a reminder to myself that things are not what they seem. We experience only one small portion of a bigger universe, which exists beyond our senses, often ignorant that it is, as C.S. Lewis put it, “a universe at war.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Chosen One of the Palace

Poised on the threshold of young womanhood back in the late 60s, I embraced (flung open wide my good-Catholic girl-honor-student-achiever arms) the women’s liberation movement—or at least parts of it.

Actually, I picked and chose from the counterculture and women’s lib agendas as though they were shopping lists: same employment opportunities as men? Yes. Same pay? Definitely. Same political power? Why not? The same sexual freedoms? Most assuredly.

 Did I want to go into mandatory military front-line duty? No. Did I want a guy to pay for dinner on a date? Yes.

So I took off my bra, liberated woman that I was, lived in a tepee on a mountain top, and played my newly acquired sexual empowerment card.

And that was about it. I know, I know, a shallow take on Gloria Steinem’s idea of a liberated woman.

Decades later, I’m all for gender equality, but my focus on women’s rights has shifted to the Millions of women, for whom “rights” is not a matter of equal opportunity in the work place or paycheck, or choosing with whom they can freely sleep.

For Millions of women around the globe, women’s rights is a matter of Life or Death.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

The maintenance of your girls, or how to wed a daughter

Marcia Moston

Being knee-deep in wedding plans with our one and only daughter, I had to laugh when I came across the admonition in Proverbs to be good stewards of what you had, so that in time of need there would be “food for your household and maintenance for your girls.”—Proverbs 27:27

Ha! Maintenance for your girls. Lord knows us well. Our dear one and only daughter was not cheap to keep and nor is she to give away. Makes me kind of re-think the verse I used to pray over my children—“Let our sons in their youth be as grown-up plants, And our daughters as corner pillars fashioned as for a palace.”—Psalm 144:12

There’s nothing more alluring than the World of Weddings to remind you that your daughter has indeed been fashioned for a palace. I marvel at the limitless possibilities, the complexity of a cake, the minutia of a menu, the height of a shoe and the up-or-down do. All for a price, of course. If you’re not careful, at the end of the day you could come out feeling like you’ve just been the demo in a school for pickpockets. Where, oh where, did all the money go?

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Not the trail to Pisgah

After two hours of driving winding mountain roads, we stood there, stared at the sign posted in front of the two-track dirt path, then doubled over in laughter.

Not to say I told you so, I did remind the others how odd I thought it was that there were no tourist signs marking the turnoffs that got smaller and more rugged by the mile. But we had trustingly followed the GPS directions that had led us to this point.

And it was not the trail to Mt. Pisgah. 

It had all started that morning when my brother, who was visiting from Vermont, came in from his RV parked in our driveway, and said he’d like to go see Mt. Pisgah in NC. Coincidentally, I had just been reading Deuteronomy 3 in my morning devotions—the passage where Moses says he pleaded with God to let him go over the Jordan and see the land he had been trying to lead those stubborn Israelites to for the past forty years, but the Lord was angry with him (Moses) and said, “Enough from you. Go up to the top of Mt. Pisgah and lift up your eyes…”

And so we all piled into our car, my husband, brother and sister-in-law, and went in search of Mt. Pisgah. (We did know it wasn’t the same one, by the way!)

We stopped at the pleasantly informative Discovery Center of the Cradle of Forestry (where I picked up this fun hologram(come by and try to touch the frog that looks like it’s sitting on top). 

The road forked.

“Let’s take 64. It’s the “scenic route,” my brother said.

And indeed it was—past waterfalls and mountain streams. We were blissfully unaware it was not the way to Pisgah until it dead-ended at the sign:Private Road-Not the trail to Pisgah. Hours later, after making a complete circle, we came to a marked pull-off on the Blue Ridge Parkway within spitting distance of the mountain.

We had literally driven all around the mountain, only to discover it was only a few miles away from the forestry center where we had stopped earlier.

Have you ever done that? Spent a lot of time and energy (maybe money) only to end up back where you started?  In our case, we had little at risk other than some extra gas and time, and so chose to just enjoy the diversion.

But Moses had a whole lot more at stake. One of the things that impressed me as I read the ensuing chapters of Deuteronomy that led to his death on the mountain, was how utterly, uncomplainingly surrendered to the Lord he was.

After forty years of dragging forward rebellious people whom he never asked for to begin with, many times pleading and interceding for their lives, he is told he can’t enter the promised land.

What does Moses do? Does he pull out his entitlement card? Does he kick and scream “unfair”? Does he pick up his staff and leave, resentful and angry?

No. He continues to deliver all the Lord’s instructions, warnings and blessing to the people who will go in. 

And then he worships:

Give ear, O heavens, and I will speak,
and let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
May my teaching drop as rain,
My speech distill as the dew…
For I will proclaim the name of the LORD,
Ascribe greatness to our God!
“The Rock, his work is perfect
for all his ways are justice.
A God of faithfulness and without iniquity”…. —Deuteronomy 32:1-4

Moses finishes well.

Lord, whatever the reasons we go around our Pisgahs, whether from following a faulty GPS or from our own foolishness, open our eyes to the lessons, the unexpected treasures and beauty along the way that we may see you and accept your provisions and plans without murmuring or expectation of entitlement. May we too, finish well.

Blessings abundant friends as we leave this merry month of May and look forward to our June journeys,