Love is not a feeling, it is fact. If we Love we do not hate. If we say, “I Love him, BUT. . .” we do NOT LOVE. If we Love we Love no matter what. We just keep on Loving.
     Love is a gift - the most precious one according to the Scriptures - but it is seldom manifested because it hurts so much to Love. We shrink from embracing the gift of Love because we instinctively know that it will take away the very center of ourselves which we love so dearly.
     Love continues even when the one whom we love betrays us and deserts us just when we need him or her the most.
     Love never even considers retaliation when it is done a wrong. Love controls the tongue. It accepts with quiet humility and resignation all meannesses heaped upon us. If we love, we do not fight back.
     Love never presumes to know “what is good for the next person.” Even when advice is given with good intentions, Love never attempts to take over God’s sovereign right to tell someone else what to do with their life. Love prays and intercedes night and day, and leaves the results with God.
     Love never lifts a finger to “pay anyone back” for anything that is done to it, though it may involve tragedies, pain, and heartbreak. Love is not weak, though it may appear to be so. In weakness, God’s Love in our hearts is made perfect. And Love then manifests itself in a “meek and quiet spirit” which, we are told in the Word, is of great price in the sight of God.
     Love never screams at a child; but Love is strong enough to discipline when limits must be set. Love says “NO” to every protest that a child can muster to Love’s confining embrace. Love itself has no limits, yet it must set limits.
     Love never gives up. It often is compelled to leave one to oneself, but the fire of hope burns in the heart of Love and can never be extinguished. Love lets go, but never gives up.
     Love offers itself to everyone. It knows no racial boundaries. It loves the hateful person, the murderer, the immoral and the incorrigibles of society. It draws a circle around these people, and refuses to budge so that the circle cannot be broken. Love knows that its strength alone can make these people whole.
     Love gives without ever expecting any kind of return. It gives of it’s goods, it’s home, it’s family, and most importantly of all, it gives of itself.
     Love never counts the cost of seeing a soul through the travail of birth until Christ is formed in that soul. Sometimes it is so painful that if Love had the slightest weakness it would let that soul go. But it never lets go. It never stops praying. It rends the heavens with a heart-cry that reaches the very throne of God. It prays on, and God hears and answers such prayers.
     Love never feels slighted. It never backbites anyone. It never justifies itself. It never causes another any pain even when that person (in the world’s viewpoint) “deserves” to suffer.
     Love, when violated, never violates back. It just loves, and that loving overcomes the pain of the violation.
     Love always gives more than is necessary. Love gives a larger tip after a meal regardless of the service. Love always gives hugs, even when hugs are not given back. Love reaches out to touch the most unlovely, for Love knows that the unlovely are the ones who can be made beautiful by that very touch.
     Love forgives, no matter what. Its power covers the offended one and makes peace between former enemies. Love never holds a grudge, never complains when ignored, and never thinks evil of anyone.
     Love lets people go if that is what they want to do. Love never forces itself upon another, but Love holds that one fast and never ceases to Love throughout eternity.
     Love remembers those who are forgotten - the prisoner, the sick, the lonely ones. Love will never abandon those whom it seeks out. It cannot abandon, for Love is Love.
     Love never goes unnoticed, for when one is in the presence of Love, its presence cannot be hidden. Love either convicts or blesses wherever it goes. There is no in-between.
     Love is never in a hurry. It stops to bless a little child. It never hurries its visits to those confined by the infirmities of the flesh or the spirit. It takes time to smile at a stranger, to gather abandoned dogs and cats to its breast, and to open the doors of its heart to anyone who seeks Love.
     Love writes letters far into the night to those who have no hope. And the recipients suddenly find themselves embracing that Love and find the hope that Love has sent to them.
     “In the evening of our lives,” it has been written, “we will be examined by LOVE.”
     May all of us pass the test.

I remember the day Billie wrote this piece on love. It had been a long hard day with many problems. Someone in the house was misbehaving badly, but Billie seemed not to notice.

Her typewriter happened to be sitting on the coffee table in the living room. She sat down on the floor in front of it and in a few minutes she had written

this beautiful thing about love. I felt it was inspired by God; no person could think all this so quickly.

I have fallen short of these words so many times. it’s a good thing that our God is a God of many chances.

According to the dictionary love and charity have the same meaning. True love is not attained by will power, it is the power of God through us. Love has to be an outgrowth of the Spirit of God within us.

1 Corinthians 13 is called the Love chapter. Some Bibles use the word “charity” and others use “love.” The meaning is the same. 1 Cor. 13: 4-7:
“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.”

This is the work of God in a willing heart.

In the month of May it will be twenty years since Wingspread Prison ministries was founded. Billie had ministered to prisoners off and on for years, but in 1986 the call came from God and from then on it consumed her life.

It all began by a visit to a county jail. Twenty years ago the security was not as it is today. And we were able to bring snacks and visit in the day room.

The men we came to know during those visits continued to write to us as they went on to serve their time in prisons. They would pass the word and in time we had a group of prisoners that wanted to learn about God and grow.

We have never tried to reach the “multitudes.” This has been a ministry to the individual. When Billie went “Home” I don’t think she thought that we would continue the work. But how could we not? We could not “drop” these friends who had been a part of our family for so many years.

None of us can do what Billie did, but we will do our best, for however long Jesus gives us.

The Prodigal

Common sense said “Let him suffer.” Grace said “If he comes I’ll give him welcome with board and bed.” Long stood kindness in the doorway, hoping he might pass by chance. Love went after him to worlds end, barefoot over broken glass.
     - Author unknown

Click picture to ZOOM
Beside part of our driveway - early Spring

Who Am I?
By Billie Marie Zal
     The forest is quiet with the winter nothingness of sounds. Trees stand bare against the sky. Once in awhile a muted birdsong caresses a breeze. The pond lies still and green beneath a cover of algae. And I rejoice!
     The God who made this forest, and birdsong, and trees that can sing, and green water, also made me.
     I am reminded of the Word, “Who is man that thou art mindful of him?” And who am I? A little creature in a huge swirl of creation, living out endless days and waiting for what? For SOMETHING!
     If only I could tell. But who can tell? Where was I when my Father measured out the heavens and set the stars in place? Or when He held the waters in the hollow of His hand, and set limits to the ocean’s boundaries, that they might go so far and no farther?
     Or where was I when He made the wildflowers, and the creatures that live in the snowy Arctic as well as in the fiery jungles of Africa?
     I was nowhere. But I was somewhere. I was in the heart and the mind of God. I was planned, and with one breath He drew me out of many waters and gave me entrance into a world that has all but forsaken Him.
     For this I praise Him! And so I will stand in the gap and make up the hedge. I will bear the brunt of the enemy’s attacks and bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus Christ. I can do that for Him. I will wait with Him this one last hour.
     Are there others? Probably, I do not know. But it is worth it all even now, in the midst of trouble. It is worth it all when I see one bright star hanging over our mountain on a dark, wintry night. And when the pines murmur as the winds roar through. It is worth it all when I look into the yellow eyes of my wolf and sense that yes, he is himself even though he lives far away from all that he deserves: a great forest to run in, ponds to splash in, and the thrill of the hunt and kill. He will ALWAYS be a wolf.
     I can learn from him. I was created to be holy, righteous, kind, loving, and filled with joy. Unlike my wolf who acts from instinct, I act from choice of will. I choose. And this makes me unlike any other creature on earth, save other humans.
     This, then, is the glory of God: TO CHOOSE TO OBEY. And now I know who I am.
     - From the February, 1998 Wingspread -

Prayer Requests for May, 2006

For Robert Heffernan at Brickeys, Arkansas, for DNA testing and for an attorney to represent him.
For Isaac Douglas at Canton, Illinois, for a good job.
For Randal Smith at McAlester, Oklahoma, that he will be transferred to Lexington, Oklahoma.
For Andre Barry at McAlester, Oklahoma, that he will be transferred to a community center in Oklahoma City.
For Jerry Crocket at Hogden,Oklahoma, that he does well after his release.
For Tommy Hayes and everyone at the Estelle Unit at Huntsville, Texas.
For John Boltz, death row at McAlester, Oklahoma. John’s clemency hearing is May 11th. His execution date has been set for June 1st.
For Francis Nolan Holland, Tucker, Arkansas, who’s father is terminally ill.
For Willie Scott, Pine Bluff, Arkansas, for clemency from the parole board.
For Karen Griffin at McCloud, Oklahoma, who has cancer, that she does well after her release in four months.
For Sister Ann and the nuns in Little Rock.
For all of us at Wingspread.

Note: Our prayers are being answered. Ed and Shirley are fine now. Ed spent a weekend in the hospital and a week at home, but went back to work last week. Gail’s shoulder is much better. She only has one therapy session left. And we’ve received about four inches of rain this month.

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