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May 27, 2015, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey-June 2015

   JUNE...the month of many weddings and Father's upon us. What better time to think about families and the heritages that result from each of them! Today, the definition of a family is being stretched and tried in many arenas. Personally, I have been blessed with a largely traditional heritage.

   Recently, someone inquired about my heritage "in the ministry." As I replied, I was reminded of how exposure to those with a strong faith can affect generations yet to come. My paternal grandfather (PaPa) worked in oil fields and then at a hospital. At some point, he was ordained to the Gospel ministry. He served as a supply preacher many times and possibly as a bi-vocational Pastor briefly. He and Grandmother were very strong Christian influences in my life, although he only lived to be 62. Just the day before he died, he and I, at age 15, took a long walk across our farm, where they were visiting us on vacation. The two of us visited like never before. I have long since forgotten what we said but I will never forget that walk. God brought them from New Mexico to Arkansas that week, giving him a final chance to pour his life and love into his oldest grandchild on his last day. He was buried on Father's Day, with a glorious, worshipful service, including music provided by their church’s beautifully robed choir! His name was Bryan.

   My father was also named Bryan. He served the Lord faithfully--for many years as an ordained, beloved Deacon. Years later, our own son, Bryan, surrendered his life to God’s call to become a Pastor while attending a college retreat, at Glorieta, in New Mexico. My grandparents had gone there many times, starting the year it opened, and Russell and I had taught there already and have since. The legacy continued!

   Mother's mother (Nannie) was a godly lady. Grandaddy provided a home in Kansas for his family, but apparently not always a happy one. When Mother first met PaPa, as her potential father-in-law, it was only then that she felt it would be okay to marry Daddy, because she saw how differently my PaPa treated Grandmother than in the marriage she had grown up observing at home. She knew then she could trust her love for PaPa’s son, who would become my Daddy. What an important legacy. Years later, she went home to join all of them in Heaven--on Father's Day of 2011.

   That is how Father's Day and weddings blend in my mind. That...and watching my own dear husband be a loving husband, Dad, and PaPa through my own marriage. Happy Father's Day, Honey! May your legacy be everlasting, as well...

Marsha Cook


April 21, 2015, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey-May 2015

With MOTHER’S DAY approaching, I couldn’t help but think again about how Mother had so much to do with shaping my life. Memories began to flow. Here are a few to share with you…

MOTHER taught me as a tiny child to love God’s Word. Waiting for the birth of my sister, Gail, she spent much time confined to bed. Trying to control/entertain 2-3-year-old me, she kept me close and taught me to memorize scripture…maybe 100??? Gail is sure she must have heard them in Mother’s womb, too! Mother never stopped being my most ardent, yet gentle, spiritual mentor—at home and at church!

MOTHER never had huge clothing budgets. But she knew how to wisely spend what she had! She taught us the fun art of bargain-shopping the best stores with the least amount of money! We often put clothes in layaway at the best store in town for a whole year. She also encouraged my desire to learn to sew and I loved doing that for many years.

MOTHER knew how to dispense “tough love,” saying the hard things so that I would grow up, be independent and realize my potential. For instance, she gently but firmly explained to me, as a teen struggling with shyness, that shyness is actually a form of selfishness, because it shows you are only concerned with what other people think about oneself. What a life-changer that was for me!

MOTHER extended hospitality to all she could with generosity and graciousness. More often than not our Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables were shared with international university students. She and Daddy were careful to share the love of Christ during those celebrations. They often found creative ways to practice hospitality by “coloring outside the lines” of the normal ways of doing that.

MOTHER was the epitome of the so-called submissive wife, yet she also exhibited how to graciously express her own opinion. She and Daddy worked as a team, no matter what. Sacrificial love was a very real picture in our home.

MOTHER taught us to find beauty in the small things. Noticing wildflowers in a field. Taking pictures of spectacular Fall trees in the Ozarks. Enjoying the fragrance of making endless jars of strawberry jam and spreading the “foam” on freshly buttered bread to enjoy as we worked. Noticing cloud formations in the blue sky or the promise of a rainbow. Listening to classical music on 33rpm records while we dusted and polished our beautiful, antique upright piano—and insisting that beautiful music would eventually come from hours of practicing there for our own piano lessons!

Thank you, MOTHER, for being my “Proverbs 31 Lady!”

Marsha Cook


February 19, 2015, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey-March 2015

It was on a Friday—Russell’s day off. He took a late morning nap. I decided to surprise him with a fun, brunch-type meal on a pretty plate. I planned to gently wake him where he sat in his favorite chair by placing a yummy meal under his nose.

   At the last moment I decided to get one final thing out of the refrigerator. As I opened the door…CRASH!!!  A pint jar of homemade jam hit our stone floor and shattered into a gooey mess that failed to catch all of the shards of glass flying everywhere. Our miniature Yorkie (4# worth) barely escaped getting hit in the head as she jumped and ran to safety. I stood in horror as glass flew by me, my feet shod only in fuzzy socks. “Russselllll….help!”

   My startled husband, thankfully wearing tennis shoes, stumbled into the kitchen to rescue me. After sleepily grasping the situation, he patiently began to clean up that hopeless mess…while I stared in dismay at our quickly cooling nice, hot brunch, with which I had hoped to surprise him. He was surprised alright, but not in the way I had planned! Once he cleared a glass-free path for me, I left the room to get some shoes.

   In our bedroom, I found myself muttering (complaining) out loud. “Okay, Lord, help me understand THIS one! Why in this world would my nice surprise turn into such a mess??? There’s bound to be a lesson in this one but, for the life of me, I don’t know what it could be.”

   Suddenly I knew. I had made a very bad decision. I was the culprit who had decided to set that jar of jam in the door’s shelf, stacked in a rather precarious position, telling myself it would be okay. I had consciously made a poor choice.

   We all make decisions…large and small, many made in the spur of the moment. Even if we have a fleeting thought that maybe we shouldn’t, we do it anyway. Then there are those times we say, “Yes,” and make good decisions. Every decision counts, one way or the other. I quickly thought of many people in the Bible whose life stories carry examples of decisions that have rippled down through the ages.

   People decide every day to do things that ultimately either hurt or help. Even if it is as small as putting a jar of jam where…it could break…cut someone’s feet…kill their tiny dog…or wake up a resting husband.

   My startled husband also had a decision to make: to yell in anger or to help clean up the mess and keep things safe. I’m so glad he loves me and takes care of me, without yelling—even when I do dumb things.

Marsha Cook


January 21, 2015, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey-February 2015

   Usually news or social media reports today are anything but encouraging. Broken marriages, murders of family members, kidnappings, beheadings, terrorist attacks, enumerable prejudices, weather-related tragedies, political messes, rampant diseases—it’s enough to make us want to cry out, “Enough, already!” Dwindling numbers in church attendance make us say, “Enough, already!” Our own lives are filled with personal heartache or seemingly insurmountable challenges and we weep, “Enough, already, Lord…I’ve had enough!

   Has God left us sitting on a shelf to fend for ourselves? 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Mt. 28:19-20 HCSB.

   Are we powerless to make changes in our own lives and our world? 13 I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13 HCSB …and… 9 But He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may reside in me.                        2 Cor. 12:9 HCSB.

   Is Christianity disappearing off the face of the earth? I have just completed an opportunity to help judge middle-high school age students at a Christian speech and debate tournament held at OBU—an indicator there is a new remnant rising up, of young people committed to the Lord, able to articulate well their beliefs and back them up with God’s Word! There IS hope for the Church of tomorrow!

   Is all this stuff new and the world is just going wack-o? 9 What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Can one say about anything, "Look, this is new"? It has already existed in the ages before us. Ecc 1:9 HCSB.  Things may look or sound different, but human nature—and evil—are still the same! Thankfully, Heb. 13:8 HCSB tells us, “8 Jesus Christ is (forever and always) the same yesterday, today, and forever,” as well!

   Should I just throw up my hands and say “ENOUGH, LORD?!?” Don’t run away! Run TO…your refuge and strength!!! Go to Psalm 18:2, Psalm 46:1, Psalm 91:2…and many, many more for reassurance! 4 He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield. Psa. 91:4 HCSB.     

Marsha Cook


December 18, 2014, 12:00 AM

A Nugget From My Spiritual Journey-January 2015

Happy New Year! I truly mean that…from me to you.

   However, do you think we often say that rather glibly? What does it mean to wish someone “happiness?” Does it mean silly-happy…life without pain or sorrow on any day of the year…Pollyanna-happy? What does it mean?

   In the Beatitudes, Jesus said, “Blessed [happy] are those who…are the poor in spirit, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs…mourn, because they will be comforted…are the gentle, because they will inherit the earth…hunger and thirst for righteousness, because they will be filled…are the merciful, because they will be shown mercy…are the pure in heart, because they will see God…are the peacemakers, because they will be called sons of God…are persecuted for righteousness, because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me. Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Taken from Matthew 5, HCSB)

   In today’s world, we can hardly listen to the news or read social media without being faced with discouraging, painful, or even fearful news. How should we face this New Year, with so many uncertainties surely to come? Frankly, I have honestly been asking myself that question. It is comforting to know that if we continue to read beyond the Beatitudes in Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount,” He very kindly gives us the answer:


12 Be glad and rejoice, because your reward is great in heaven. For that is how they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

13 "You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It's no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

14 "You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.

15 No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house.

16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.


Marsha Cook


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