Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fellowship Of The Authors: Merlin R. Carothers

One of the earliest authors I read as a young Christian was Merlin R. Carothers. I have had his books on praise in my library for 37 years. Whenever I get down in the face, I have returned to his books to remind me how to praise.

It was while reading his book Prison to Praise that I was given to opportunity to put his advice to work. In 1972, my VW van blew its engine on my way to work in Sacramento. I managed to get it towed off the highway to a gas station and call my cousin, Jack, to come pick me up. I was devastated. It was quite serious, as I lived in Marysville, but worked in Sacramento-an hours commute. I was a single mother and financially struggling. I could not afford to lose my job and I did not have the money to repair or replace the car. As I waited for my cousin to come pick me up, I sat on the curb with my head in my hands, crying. It was then that the things Mr. Carothers had written came to my mind. I sat contemplating how I could praise God in this situation. Finally by sure faith, I decided I was going to praise God right then and there not matter how bad the situation seemed. By the time my cousin came, I was at peace. I did not know how, but I knew I was going to be OK.

Miracles started happening almost immediately. My cousin had my van towed to a shop and had the engine replaced at his expense as a gift. When I got to work, a co-worker, who was an Afro-American Christian, Patsy, invited me to stay with her for a few days, while the van was being repaired. I called the babysitter; she volunteered to take my daughter, Shannon, for as long as I needed at no charge!

During my stay at Patsy’s, I had some wonderful spiritual experiences. Her church, Progressive Church of God in Christ, was in the midst of a prayer revival. Every morning at 5 am we would go for prayer for an hour before going to work. Now these saints prayed and worship like no others that I had encountered since I had come to the Lord. This was also my first three-day fast as they were fasting without food or water. I have to admit that this was not a pleasant experience as on the second day I developed a horrendous headache. It was several years later that I discovered that the source of my headache was not from fasting but from caffeine withdrawal.

I credit all these wondrous events as a direct result of applying the principles and examples in set forth in Merlin R. Carothers’ books. I have always enjoyed his fellowship and feel as if I know him personally.

About Merlin Carothers

Merlin Carothers is a Methodist pastor who formed the Foundation of Praise. The work of the Foundation was conducted in the garage of Merlin and Mary’s home in Escondido, California until a new church was completed in 1972. In 1976, another church was established in Escondido, and again the Foundation of Praise worked within the church.

By 1980, requests for free books for prisoners, military personnel and patients had skyrocketed. Letters asking for spiritual help and prayer flooded our mailroom. The Foundation moved to larger offices and attempted to keep up with the increasing number of letters and requests.

Books were stored in warehouses scattered throughout Escondido. This proved to be a disastrous temporary solution. Not only was it difficult to keep an accurate inventory, but also the facilities baked in the heat and leaked water when it rained! Some books were ruined.

Then in 1984, a marvelous thing happened. We were able to build a new building! It was designed so that all our work would be accomplished as quickly and economically as possible. Daily, vehicles back up to our warehouse and load books going to all parts of the United States, and throughout the world.

A primary goal of the Foundation of Praise has been to keep operating costs to an absolute minimum. Many organizations pay thousands of dollars to their presidents or leaders. Not so with the Foundation of Praise. Merlin and Mary receive no salary. They have resisted all tendencies to become a “large organization” with many employees and magnificent buildings. Since seventeen million of Merlin’s books have been distributed, they could have grown in size rather than in ministry. They have chosen to reach needy people to tell them about our Lord and Savior, Jesus. 
 Their small overhead costs permit them to send thousands of free books every month to the darkest corners of the world. Donations are tax deductible.

Merlin Carothers has served his country in Europe, Korea, Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic. Proudly, his life has been devoted to public service in the following areas: Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army, Retired; 82nd Airborne 1943, WWII, Demolition Expert; Guard for Dwight D. Eisenhower; Graduate Marion College, Marion, IN; Graduate Asbury Seminary, Wilmore, KY; Chaplain U.S. Army 1953-1971; Master Parachutist (90 jumps); Civil Air Patrol Pilot.

Merlin R. Carothers’ Books In My Library

Over 210 weeks as a national bestseller! An inspiring story of a man who found freedom while behind bars, who searched out the fullness of the power of God, met the Holy Spirit, and lived to touch m

any lives. Prison to Praise is not about a prison with bars, but about a prison of circumstances - and how to be set free! Millions of people have found answers they never expected to find and as a result they're eager to pass on the Good News.

A simple clear explanation of how and why the principles introduced in Prison to Praise work in everyday life. Power In Praise brings together some of the miracles wrought by the simple application of Biblical truth: all things work together for good. This message is a simple, clear explanation of how and why the Power of God works in our everyday lives. Learn How The Spiritual Dynamic Of Praise Revolutionizes Lives!

Millions of people have asked the questions: Does praise really work? If so, what can I do to make it work for me? People from all around the world have written clear, practical accounts of how praise helped them receive specific answers to their prayers. Some of the most amazing examples are in this book! Not every prison is made of stone. Some are prisoners of fear, anger & unbelief. Through Jesus, there is a way out.

We live by faith or by fear, and the one we choose makes all the difference in the world. Do you have faith that God works for good in all the circumstances of your life? Do you believe God wants to be intimately involved in your life and help you have victory over your problems? Merlin Carothers shows you how you can overcome your fears and live a life of vibrant faith and praise. He shows how choosing faith over fear can help overcome feelings of inferiority, conquer bitterness and anger, build strong personal relationships, and create a climate for experiencing success in life.

Other Books By Merlin Carothers

Answers to Praise

What's on Your Mind

Bringing Heaven into Hell

Walking and Leaping

More Power to You

Victory on Praise Mountain

The Bible on Praise

You Can Be Happy Now

Let Me Entertain You

Classics from Merlin Carothers

Secret Sins

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shannon's Story: Shannon's Last Minute Miracles

Most family, friends and Twitter friends are aware that Shannon has been gravely ill for two months. Since early October, Shannon has been hospitalized three times. Each time she was in ICU. In October it was discovered that Shannon had suffered three small strokes. This brought her to a total of twelve strokes in her lifetime. Each hospitalization presented us with dangerous life and death situations as her chemistries flew totally out of whack and infections set in.

What most are not aware of is that during her last hospitalizations, Shannon was within hours of going home to meet the Lord not once, but twice. When she was taken to the emergency room, she had a temperature of 106.7 degrees. The doctor was visually shaken. He immediately wanted to know if I had a ‘do not resuscitate order’ for her. Her pulse was very fast, but her blood pressure was very low. She was completely dehydrated due to the fever. She had a very serious infection that was causing every chemistry to go helter kelter. To make things worst her veins were almost impossible to find. This required three attempts with an ultrasound to place a main line in her neck. The hospital staff was so certain she would not make it out of the emergency room alive; they decided not to put any other patients in the room she was in.

Kaiser Hospital, the hospital the ambulance took Shannon, was the nearest hospital to us; but Shannon is a patient of UCSF Hospital in San Francisco 15 miles away. Kaiser & UCSF felt she was not safe to transfer because of her low blood pressure, so after 15 hours in Kaiser’s emergency room, Shannon was admitted to Kaiser’s ICU unit.

In ICU the rush was on to keep the fevers down, pump fluid and medications into her to bring her blood pressure up, and drip antibiotics into her to ward off the infection. For three days it was very touch and go. At 4’oclock am on the fourth day, I received a call from the ICU nurse to come immediately. Shannon had taken a turn for the worst. She had been ‘fish’ breathing (breathing, very rapidly and hard with pursed lips) for hours. Shannon’s lungs were full of fluid due to the large amount of fluids being administered to her for her blood pressure.

I requested the doctors to stop the fluids and one of her medications as she was now visually swollen with fluid. Shannon has a very rare diagnosis called Diabetes Inspetisus. It is so rare that most doctors have never cared for a patient with this disease. This condition has nothing to do with sugar diabetes. It was caused by her brain tumor and has to do with sodium control. When our sodium get too high or too low it can be fatal. She takes a medication that does the opposite of a diuretic. It makes her hold fluid. Without it she would urinate nonstop and little fluid would get to her cells, causing her to become very dehydrated even when drinking gallons of water. One way low blood pressure is treated is to flood the patient with fluid. In Shannon’s case, flooding her with fluid while on this medication was causing her to hold too much fluid. Her blood pressure began to improve, but her body was filling up with too much fluid including her lungs.

When the doctor came in later in the morning, I was once again asked if I had a ‘do not resuscitate order’. I anxiously asked her if she was not expecting Shannon to make it. Her response was, “Well, she has been breathing like this for 30 hours now. Most patients stop breathing within about 24 hours. They just get tired and stop.” Hearing this I begged her to stop the medication and IV fluid. I was willing to take the risk that her blood pressure might drop. I just knew if she had any chance at all something different had to happen. She reluctantly consented. She did not believe Shannon would make it more than a few more hours.

With that I left the hospital and sat in my car in the parking lot. I needed to think. I needed to pray. I needed to maybe plan a funeral. I decided to call my brother, Dan, to let him know that Shannon might not make it. He has always been very supportive and spoke of all the wonderful times Shannon has had. He is also a realist. He pointed out that I did not want her to suffer endlessly and how quality of life was more important that quantity of life. He was right; Shannon’s quality of life has suffered greatly in the last few years. She was now blind and without speech. Her diabetes insepitusis was getting harder to control. She had had five strokes in the last two years. She had experienced so many losses and sufferings. I wished she could tell me how she felt about all this, but she could not speak.

After hanging up, I sat in my car trying to plan her funeral and transporting her back to Nevada to be buried in our family’s grave plot. I tried to plan, but the planning made me feel like I was giving up on her. Worst yet, I felt like I was not trusting God to determine the number of her days. At this point I had a flashback to 1981, when I had a similar call from UCSF ICU. Shannon had had a double stroke and had been seizing for three days. Once again at 4 o’clock in the morning, I received a call to come quickly to the hospital. When I arrived, the doctors wanted to know if I wanted to put Shannon on a respirator. She had spent several hours where she would stop breathing and then start again. I could tell they did not expect her to pull through. I asked her doctors, “What do you hope will happen by putting her on a respirator?” One doctor honestly replied, “We would be hoping for a miracle.” At that point, I made the hardest decision of my life, and replied, “If what Shannon needs is a miracle, then she can have a miracle without a ventilator.” I knew that miracles were only performed by God. I left the hospital almost immediately. I had to get home and pray.

At home, I cried my heart out to God and totally released my daughter to his care and providence. After several hours of agonizing prayer, I concluded with, “Lord, I know you love my daughter more than I could ever love her. I do not feel worthy that You would answer my prayer, but I trust You to do the highest and best for my daughter. Whether You heal her or whether You take her, I know You are doing it in Your love for her. I completely release her into Your care.” With that I washed my face and returned to the hospital. Shannon continued to start and stop breathing for two more days. She remained in a coma for 28 days. She had broken her left hip, when she fell from the stroke, which could not be operated on until she came out of the coma. Each day she very slowly improved. This was an early lesson for both of us in God’s ability and wiliness to bring us through.

This flashback renewed my confidence in God. I once again committed Shannon’s highest and best, which I had made 28 years ago, into his loving hands. I then returned to Shannon’s room to find her breathing a little better. Over the next week, she slowly improved. After, 10 days in ICU, Kaiser decided it was now safe to transfer Shannon to UCSF, where they were more familiar with her history. After 5 days at UCSF, Shannon was released to come home.

Shannon in 2001 when she could still see, speak, and sign.

Since Shannon has been home, she has had a few incidences where I feared she might have to return to the hospital. Due to the high fevers, Shannon has eight bedsores. Because of this we have to turn her every two hours. The good news is they are healing and she is once again improving day by day. Day by day I thank God for even the smallest of blessings. It might be as little as not as much redness on a sore or a smile when I rub Shannon’s cheek.

“O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days” Psalm 90:14. 
God shows for his mercy daily toward Shannon and myself, and I praise him daily. I thank him for small advances; I thank him for friends, family and all their prayers. I thank him that He loves my daughter more than I ever could and that only He knows the number of her days. I therefore I will thank Him daily for each moment we have together this side of heaven. I thank Him for His miracles, both big and small. His greatest miracle is His love for all of us. He is awesome and worth to be praised.

The Cracker Lady’s Fancy: Overflowing With Thanksgiving

Cracker Lady’s Thanksgiving Note: My sincere hope is that each one of you will have a wonderful Thanksgiving and a year filled with overflowing thankfulness! Happy Thanksgiving.

I hate organ recitals. Not pipe organs, especially, but this kind:

"How are you today, Gladys?"

"Terrible, just terrible? Did I tell you about my gall bladder acting up?"

"Yes, Gladys."

She doesn't seem to acknowledge my, "Yes," but launches into a full-scale report on gall bladders around the world, and hers in particular. When she sees my eyes beginning to glaze over, Gladys falters for a moment. She knows she has to switch gears quickly to keep me from nodding off.

"And I have this terrible skin rash that drives me so crazy that I can't sleep at night."

I am trying hard to be polite. "Oh, I'm sorry."

I attempt to stop myself, but it is too late. The ill-fated word has crossed my lips -- "sorry" -- and now I have fed Gladys her first morsel of real food for the day. She seems to take new energy, and as she describes her itching, I begin to sense little crawling things in my scalp. I unconsciously reach up to scratch my head, but nothing gets by Gladys. Oh, that's the first sign." she begins.

You've met Gladys, haven't you? It might be a different name. Gladys goes under a number of aliases and dons many disguises. But it's the same complaining, self-centered woman.

Too often, however, I meet Gladys in me. I want people to sympathize with me, so when something is going wrong, -- and when doesn't it? -- I begin to complain. The 49ers are having a bad season. The morals of our nation are terrible. The election was depressing. My spouse is in a bad mood. It doesn't have to dwell on the interior plumbing of a sick Gladys. Normal complaining comes all too easily to my lips.

So when I read Colossians 2:6-7 it hits home. The phrase, "overflowing with thankfulness," begins to repeat itself over and over in my mind.

"Overflowing" -- "abounding," some translations say -- brings the mental picture of the Thanksgiving cornucopia spilling out an abundant harvest blessing. Jesus said, "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." What is in my heart? Complaining? Selfishness? Pride? -- or Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving is the mark of a Christian, because thanksgiving points out and up while my complaining points only back to me and feeds my pride and dissatisfaction. Thanksgiving towards God and man fits the Great Commandment like a glove, to love God with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. What better vehicle than thankfulness to express love?

The Pillsbury Doughboy® has that endearing quality that when you poke him he doesn't flare up but automatically responds with a friendly, perky, "Oh!" I want to be like him. Not so plump, mind you, but that full of friendliness. When someone pokes me I want my first instinct to be thankfulness rather than anger. I want people to find thankfulness oozing out of me. I want thanksgiving to mark my conversation and manner. I want to abound with it, be full of it. I want to overflow with thankfulness.

How about you?

Colossians 2:6-7 reads: "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness" (NIV)

By Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, Overflowing with Thankfulness, Joyful Hearts Ministries

The Dawn of Bounty

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

My Richmond Ramblings: S.S. Red Oak Victory

SS Red Oak Victory is a World War II Victory ship preserved as a museum ship in Richmond, California. It was one of 534 Victories built during World War II, but one of only a few of these ships to be transferred from the Merchant Marine to the United States Navy. It was named after Red Oak, Iowa, which suffered a disproportionate number of casualties in early World War II battles. Red Oak is a community firmly rooted with rich traditions of growing industry, embracing worthwhile projects, celebrating history and caring for fellow citizens. Organized in 1869 and named for the numerous oak trees that lined the banks of a small stream known as Red Oak Creek, the Red Oak of today boasts 6,000 residents and is nestled along the Nishnabotna River. The ship was active during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

The Red Oak Victory was built by the Permanente Metals Corporation's Richmond Number 1 Yard in Richmond, California and launched on November 9, 1944. Many Rosies recounted how important their jobs were in welding these ships and how careful they were in doing it. They realized the lives of their husbands; brothers and sons depended on the cargoes delivered by these ships. Victory ships were not supposed to last long--but the welds of the Red Oak Victory are still intact after 60 years. The ship is 455 feet (138 m) in length, and armed with one five-inch/38 caliber gun; one three-inch/50 caliber gun, and eight 20 mm guns.

The ship was acquired by the United States Navy on December 5, 1944 and commissioned the same day as USS Red Oak Victory (AK-235). Following a fitting out period, the Red Oak Victory was loaded with cargo and departed San Francisco for Pearl Harbor on January 10, 1945. Red Oak Victory departed Hawaii on February 10 loaded with munitions needed in the Marshall and Caroline islands. Sent onward from Enewetak, she arrived in Ulithi on February 28, 1945, and then began operating under Commander Service Squadron Ten. Operating out of the Philippines, the vessel issued cargo and ammunition to various ships in the fleet through the end of the war in August 1945. During a hazardous tour of duty in the Pacific, the USS Red Oak Victory handled many tons of ammunition, supplying the fleet without a single casualty.

The vessel was decommissioned in 1946 and returned to the U.S. Maritime Commission. Red Oak Victory was used by the Luckenbach Steamship Company from 1947 through the 1950s, during which time the vessel went to Japan, Korea, Cuba, Pakistan, India, Singapore and Japan again. Red Oak Victory was operated by American Mail Lines for the Military Sea Transport Service from 1966 to 1968, making a dozen voyages to Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines carrying military supplies loaded at West Coast ports. From 1968 until 1998, the vessel was laid up in the National Defense Reserve Fleet in Suisun Bay.

Captain’s Cabin Cartographer's room

Richmond Museum Association

Doomed to be scrapped, the Red Oak Victory came to the attention of the Richmond Museum Association in 1993. In 1996 Congress passed legislation authorizing the conveyance of the ship to the Museum Association. Red Oak Victory was turned over to the Richmond Museum of History and returned to a new home in Richmond on September 20, 1998. It is being restored and operated by the Richmond Museum of History, and is part of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park.

The Richmond Museum Association has as its mission the preservation and restoration of the SS Red Oak Victory as an operational vessel. The SS Red Oak Victory, a National Memorial
Ship, will be developed into a maritime museum focused on the wartime contributions of the residents and workers of the City of Richmond and the shipbuilding ingenuity of Henry J. Kaiser.

As an operational museum the SS Red Oak Victory will provide a unique perspective on the history-making achievements of the City of Richmond and the Richmond Shipyard workers. As a community resource, the vessel will be a site for local events, service to the children and youth of the community and an intriguing family recreation and entertainment destination. Finally, the SS Red Oak Victory will be a ceremonial ship to recognize and honor those who served with valor in the armed forces, the merchant marine and home-front facilities such as the Kaiser Richmond Shipyards.

The SS Red Oak Victory is the site of many community events such as World War II film festivals; benefits and fundraisers for cultural groups and humanitarian causes; national and veteran ceremonial events; civic, professional and private organization meetings, parties, symposiums, and dinners; weddings and other events

The SS Red Oak Victory also provides services to children of the

community such as Grade school through high school camp and

educational programs (e.g., naval history, mechanical science,

marine engineering, navigation and leadership training); programs

involving sea cadets, boy and girl scout groups, church and other

youth groups; and teacher education, seminars and symposiums

SS Red Oak Victory as a Ceremonial Ship: Supports the activities of the Navy’s Fleet Week and Merchant Marine activities, and conducts special events on National and Patriotic Holidays including the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

Pancake Breakfast

SS Red Oak Victory

1337 Canal Blvd, Richmond, CA 94804 (510) 237-2933

The SS Red Oak Victory, part of the National Park Service's Rosie the Riveter--World War II Home Front National Historical Park, is located at 1500 Dornan Dr., Terminal One, Point of Richmond, in Richmond. The ship is owned by the non-profit Richmond Museum Association, which is restoring the ship with volunteer help. The ship is open from 11:00am to 4:00pm, Tuesday-Sunday; there is a suggested donation. To schedule a guided tour, please call 510-237-2933.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Radio Club Transmits History

Steve Hawkes, center, listens to Morse code, above, as Charles Jackson, left, Sharon Primbsch and Larry Fitzsimons talk Sunday in Richmond. About 30 members of the Red Oak Victory Amateur Radio Club demonstrated code transmission.

Vintage radio equipment from World War II crackled back to life Sunday as the Red Oak Victory Amateur Radio Club hosted a demonstration of the ship's original radio equipment, which included a Morse code transmission to historical maritime radio station KPH, west of the small Marin County town of Bolinas.

The demonstration was held in addition to regular guided tours of the Victory ship, which was built nearby at Kaiser shipyard number one.


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