Refuge in the Storm

December 5, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe    –

When a tornado warning comes over my television, I gather up personal items and disappear to my bathroom. Some of my friends tend to make fun of me when they hear that I run for cover, and they laugh at the way I gather up belongings and pack them into the tub, but after the tornadoes I’ve heard about this year in Alabama and Missouri, I’m convinced more than ever to run and hide during storms.

I’ll continue to grab blankets and pillows to protect my head, my laptop, my back up drive, my schnauzer Macy, my Bible, two or three candles (lighting them prior to the electricity going out), my purse, eye glasses, and a flashlight.

Once I’m in the tub, I keep myself posted on the weather with updates on my cell phone, but it since it takes only a few minutes until I get bored, I’m ready to snap pictures of my dog as she sleeps on the quilt at the other end of the tub. She’s spent too many nights with me during storms and considers this a place to nap.

On my most recent visit to the tub a hail storm pounded the roof on my house and the winds ripped off branches from the trees in the back yard. And although my husband teased me, he joined me in the hall bathroom after sirens sounded off.

Our night ended with hail damage to both our vehicles and to the roof, but when I listened to the survivor stories in Alabama and those is Joplin, Missouri I found myself grateful and saddened—all at the same time.

A young lady described her night of terror, as she stepped back into her bathtub, the only remaining spot in her house. She folded up, got down on her knees, tucked her head in and said she had held onto the side of the tub.

Many people only had piles of debris in the places where homes once sat and block after block of houses lay splintered in massive heaps of rubble.

A man told his story, of how he too had crawled into the tub, taking his two dogs with him. At one point the suction pulled his pets into the air. They were flying above the man’s head and moving away from him.

The only thing that saved his dogs—he had them on leashes.

One man told of a donut truck flying through his living room. Another man got hit in the head by a Jeep.

A father cried as he looked for his six year old son, and yes, they found the boy alive some time later.

I saw a photo of a man holding a paper sack with these words: The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9.

Another photo showed a cross in a yard and choir robes in a destroyed church were unharmed in a closet.

Another photo showed a man as he flipped through a damaged photo album and diesel trucks were tossed into piles along the road, they looked like Tinker toys.

People hugged, many with their hands covering their mouths, and groups stood in the street shaking their heads. A man cuddled his cat. A dog looked for his owner.

Then I saw a photo of a Bible, a black leather one and it was sitting on debris.

A teenager walked around with an American flag draped over his shoulders.

Storms are scary, no matter if you hide from them in the tub or ride them out in the closet, and talk about fear—when deadly storms rush in, there’s not much a person can do—but hold on and pray.

And the next time I’m headed to the tub, I’m putting a leash on my dog so she won’t get away from me if the suction pulls on her. Maybe I’ll put a leash on my hubby too.

Speaking of leashes, this reminds me of how God’s leash of love is extended to us. He is ready to hold onto the broken hearted; those who are trying to recover and move on after devastating storms.

So let’s pray for the hurting—lift them up, lend a hand if you can because these folks need God’s hope. And to make it through to the next day, I pray God is their refuge in these hard times, and they find refuge in His love.

Children’s Book Leads Ladies to Jesus

October 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe   –

Do you wonder if you are making a difference? Or have you asked how certain events will impact the future for others?

Ten year ago, I wrote a story about a dog named Schade who tasted the foot of Jesus after he followed the shepherds to the manger. The premise for the book was based on Psalm 34:8 taste and see that the Lord is good.

In my original manuscript this stray dog becomes Jesus’ first pet—only much like the story which got tucked away inside of a box, we often feel like strays in life, wondering if we matter.

Encouraged by a series of events last year, I wanted to bring my story out of the archives, and I wanted to look at reworking the tale, to see what I might do with the poor lost dog that never made it into a storybook.

As I dusted off the pages, an amazing journey took place and Schade who seemed lonely was given a new friend, Priscilla, a sheep with an annoying personality trait of talking too much. She also thought she was called to do a makeover on Schade. He was her new project.

It’s like I heard Schade and Priscilla talking in my head, the playful way Priscilla would speak to Schade, and then in return I’d hear this gruff sounding dog sneeze at being allergic to Priscilla as he tried to run her off, to get her out and away from brushing his tail.

This children’s book took on new life; the banter between best friends jumped from the pages.

Then, I needed an illustrator and through another series of events I hired Ron Wheeler to draw my characters. He captured them exactly as I’d pictured and the book became a 32-page tale of tasting the goodness of God and discovering the makeover of the heart—comes from Jesus.

On May 11, 2011 the books arrived, and I took a copy to the Recovery Center where I hold Sunday morning church service. I shared the tale with my ladies, to take them to Ezekiel 34 in the Bible and how God is like our shepherd and how he is looking for the stray sheep.

By sharing this story from my book and then by using God’s Word to match our hearts with the love Jesus has for the stray, well—the altar call at the end of the service changed my own heart.

C-girl, one of the ladies in recovery came up to me, and she wanted to give her heart to the Lord. I prayed with her, our tears mixed with joy and she was spiritually renewed. Then, in a move that I credit to the working of the Holy Spirit, some 20 ladies also gave their hearts to Jesus as they wanted to make sure they were God’s kid, his child, that they were a part of the family.

I have only one thing to say about this entire story about Schade and his best friend Priscilla—the Lord is after the stray in all of us.

Never underestimate how God can use a story, how God can touch a life, how Jesus loves us—too much—to forget about us. He’ll never toss our life story away, or tuck it away in a box. He’s ready to bind our hearts with hope and give us a tasty life with Him, and it’s all about God’s timing!

Friends for Life

September 9, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

Manuela sat across the lobby from me at work. She was a temperamental argumentative type of person (not with me) so many folks didn’t even try to get to know her. Most just stayed out of her way.

Our friendship took place in California (when I was in my 20s) at a fast-paced bank near the airport, close to the beach. With all the people and traffic it was easy to get lost in a crowd, but for whatever reason I liked Manuela.

I was drawn to her, and yes, she was quirky and different—didn’t fit the mold, kind of like me. We took our 15-minute breaks and lunches on a set schedule, and with short spurts together for snacks and meals, she and I became friends during our time in the kitchen.

Eventually, we started to eat lunch outside the office, strolling through beach city boutiques followed by our grabbing sandwiches. We laughed, talked and bonded, becoming closer each day.

At first we lived near each other, I lived in a condo, and she lived around the corner in a brand new house, thus her desire to look inside shops, especially those which had rugs and house décor.

Toward the end of our first year as friends, I moved inland buying a home about an hour from work. Putting in for a transfer, I drove back and forth to the office, waiting to hear about my re-assignment.

Finally it came through, and I said goodbye to everyone at the bank, while making preparations to start at another branch office.

I realized I had not given Manuela my new phone number, so I jotted it down for her. I only had a land line, but I knew that I wanted to keep our friendship alive; I didn’t want the distance to keep us apart.

On the very day I wrote down the digits on a piece of paper, I had no idea that a sequence of numbers would lead to another sequence filled with pain, horror, death and murder.

For on that day—after the phone number exchange—tragedy rolled in like a tsunami hitting the beach. It changed everything, especially in regard to my faith and how I lived it out.

On Saturday morning, my phone rang; the sound on the ringer beeping, so I answered it. The voice on the phone said words which tore at my heart, as a horrible piece of news shocked my world.

Why couldn’t it be a dream? Why her? Who would do such a thing? Murder? Not to my friend? This couldn’t be happening.

The nightmare turned into a wave of suffocation, much like a rip tide of despair and it pulled me under. I had so many questions, and I was overwhelmed with sadness, doubt and tears, trying to sort through the details.

For you see, someone had gone into Manuela’s house at her back door. A serial killer left her for dead. But at one point, she must have been struggling to live, holding on, because she grabbed the piece of paper with my phone number on it.

She had held the number in her palm. Had she tried to call me? Would she have lived if I’d gotten the call? Did she even get to dial one digit?

Manuela’s death became one of the saddest days in my life, because I never once shared my faith with her. I never once talked about God’s love for her. I didn’t even know what she believed about God.

This weighed on my heart, because we could have been friends for life, ready for an eternal shopping spree in heaven.

Life rushes in, and it can be taken away in the blink of an eye, before the night gives way to the next sunrise.

So for all the Manuelas who are lost in a crowd—for anyone wandering around in the boutique of life—God is looking for you. He’s the hope for your life. You matter. You are important. He holds you in His palm even if you think He’s forgotten your phone number.

That’s good news because the Lord says in Jeremiah 33:3, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

So dial His number. Check in. And stay awhile. God wants to be friends for life.

When Life Splashes Mud

August 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

When people annoy you, what’s your response?

During a late winter snow storm as I puttered to work in my car, this woman came racing past me in her SUV, splashing muddy water from the pothole onto my car. As she disappeared into the distance, did I lift her up in prayer? Or did I utter words I’ll not share?

What if I learned she was a single mother who had finished a ten hour shift, and she was rushing home to cook dinner, help with homework, do the laundry and spend a few precious moments with her five children?

Would this change my response? Would I have prayed for her?

This same week I remember seeing a young man, pierced, tattooed, seemingly disinterested, standing in line in front of me in the grocery store. He couldn’t make change correctly or fast enough to suit me.

What if I discovered he was a worried 19-year-old college student balancing his fear of those final exams with a worry of not qualifying for his student loans the next semester?

Would this change my response when I watched him count his pennies?

A few years ago, a scary looking bum wearing a trench coat begged for money behind my car. He was in the same spot every day, and I wondered why he wasn’t applying for a real job.

Now what if I heard this bum’s father had died a horrible death, and this caused him to start using over the counter medicine to cover his pain, only for it to become an addiction? What if I heard his worst nightmares of being addicted to street drugs came with this journey?

Would this change my response? Would I have even considered praying for him?

What about those slow walking couples who shop together in the store? Ever got stuck with them? They block my attempts to rush in and out of the store.

Now what if I overheard one of those couples talking about the biopsy report the wife got back last week? What if they looked at each other with tears, and talked about how this will be the last year they go shopping together?

Would this piece of information change my response? Would it?

When I hurry past someone, without thinking of where, what or how he or she is dealing with life, I believe I miss why we’re here. Aren’t we designed for relationships, for caring and loving others, so why do we forget to do this?

My prayer is that God opens my heart, not to only those close to me, but to those who are struggling, to those on the corner, to those in the store, to those I’ll see today. Offering up a prayer is something I can do anytime, anywhere, even now.

I want to be slower in judging, and quicker to forgive, and I must ask God for the patience to see others with a heart of love and compassion.

As I think about this, I can only wonder what you thought about when I splashed mud on your car. Or how you reacted when I held up the line in the store? Or when I took too long shopping for the right cookies? Or when I took your parking spot?

But wait, if you knew more about me, knew my heart, my struggles, my dreams, and my hopes, would it change how you respond?

God says in II Chronicles 7:14 that if we, who are called by God’s name will humble ourselves, pray and seek His face, plus turn from our wicked ways, He will forgive our sins and bring healing our way.

So, when life splashes mud your way, try a new response: Seek God’s face, eat a cookie and pray. And don’t forget to enjoy the day because some day you’ll find yourself taking the final walk in the shopping aisle of life—and you might as well have fun along the way.

Bump into God in the Parking Lot

June 16, 2019 by  
Filed under Faith, Faith Articles

By Pam Kumpe –

Do you think God looks for us in the parking lot of life? Does he have to yell before we will respond?

My hubby’s parking lot incident sent my thoughts to wondering how I’d react if God came looking for me, or if I’d hear the Lord call my name.

One night, I had driven back to my hometown, knowing, I needed to stop at the store for groceries. I didn’t want to circle back to do this task, however my schnauzer was in the car, so I need hubby to pick her up from me.

After I begged, he offered his assistance, to make a puppy exchange in the parking lot, so I could go shopping.

I parked my car, turned on the dome light and opened my car window. Macy’s black nose twitched in the cold air as I kept watch for hubby’s red Tonka truck.

Zoom. Zoom. He rounded the parking lot, and I expected his truck to pull up behind my Honda, only he zipped right past me and turned down the other lane.

This routine of drive-bys continued five more times. Finally, I dialed his cell phone, tracking the moving target. I didn’t wait for his hello. “What are you doing?”

Of course, in my retelling of this story, my voice is much calmer and sweeter. It’s always nicer on paper.

Hubby responded with, “I can’t find you. I’ve been driving around. I’m parking my truck and since you see me, you bring Macy to my truck.”

I grabbed my puppy and walked to his truck. Handing my barking pet to hubby through the window, she licked, whined and loved on her human daddy giving him doggy smacks.

Their reunion was interrupted with my yelling words.

“Ray. Ray. Ray. R … A … Y!” I bounced up and down like a pogo stick at his window, and with each roll of the tires, I screamed his name.

When his truck crashed into the car parked in front of his, Ray realized his foot had slipped from the brake pedal.

Crash. Boom. Bang. Dents. Scrapes. Embarrassment.

I learned from this situation, to never ask my hubby to make a doggy exchange, and to never stand outside of his truck while he has a dog licking his face.

However, when it comes to God, I must be ready at all times, so I can make the best exchange of all. The Lord wants me to put on the brakes and roll ahead with victory, as he directs my steps.

Scripture tells me, that whoever listens to God will dwell safely, and will be secure without fear of evil. (See Proverbs 1:33.)

In other words, a life listening to God has less bumps, and fender bender moments, however if we need to make a love-exchange with the Lord, he’ll meet us anywhere, even in a parking lot.

He will drive up and down the lane as he searches for us, ready to deliver his message of everlasting love, the hope we all need when life crashes in, or in the case of my hubby rolls ahead and into other folks.

Pam Kumpe writes a weekly inspirational newspaper column for the Bowie County Life/ Texarkana Gazette newspaper. She is the host of “Permission to Have Fun” an online radio show filled with fun, faith and encouragement, with the idea of rejoicing in the Lord, even when life seems out of tune.

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