Monday, August 29, 2011

My Father's Love

I have no memory of this, but I have heard the story often that when I was a toddler I would never allow my father to hold me.  In fact, the story goes that he would actually spank me to be able to hold me and console me.  I heard him relay this story, as well as others in my family, so I suppose it is actually true.

The ironic thing about the early relationship between myself and my father is that as I grew up, it was always my father that I sought out when I wanted consolation.  It seemed like he was always ready to give me a hug, but without any instructions or admonitions.  He was the one place I felt I could go for love and support. 

I think he must have felt a reciprocal affection in the relationship.  When my husband and I were engaged, six months before our wedding date we found a tiny apartment for an incredible price.  I didn't want to lose the apartment and asked my father if I could go ahead and move into the apartment then.  He looked up at me from his desk with mournful eyes and said, "I'm losing you in six months as it is, do I have to lose you sooner than that?"

That was the end of the discussion.  We sublet the apartment to a friend for six months.

The point is, I know my father loved me.  He was not a man to say so very often.  In fact, I only remember him actually telling me so once.  I was pregnant with my last baby and one day he told  me, "I love you and I love your baby."  Even without the words, I knew it.  He loved me.

With our Heavenly Father, we have both the words and the assurances.  The Scriptures are full of His message to us that He loves us beyond measure.  It is full of His actions that He loves us as well.  The life, death and resurrection of His Son are the surest sign to us that God loves us.  He is that source of strength and comfort to which we can always turn.  He is never too busy, never absent, never distracted.  He love never fails.

"For God so loved the world,
that He gave his only begotten Son, 
that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, 
but have everlasting life."
John 3:16

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hot Donuts Now!

Boston Symphony Hall                                  Image via Wikipedia
There are a few times in your life when you know you are experiencing perfection.

A couple years ago when we visited Boston, we went to the Boston Symphony.  As John Williams conducted the Boston Pops and we heard the first strains of the most beautiful music bounce off the walls of that acoustically perfect room, tears streamed down my face.  The sound of the music was incredible and all I could think was, "How amazing must be our God to have created this." 

Several times when we have set out kayaking before daybreak, we have stopped our boats to watch the sunrise and as the sky painted pink and purple and gold, I have again had tears streaming down my cheeks as I wondered at the power, grace and beauty of our Lord.

I have been blessed in my career to witness over twenty seven thousand babies come into this world.  Each is a miracle and each baby a beauty in it's own right.  I have often cradled a baby in my arms and marveled at it's minute perfection.  The softness of the little cheeks, the sweetness of the little hands and feet are a glory to behold.  Babies were just meant to be held, swaddled and loved.  How great is our Lord to have created the miracles of birth and babies.

Today I had another of those moments of perfection.  I had worked night shift last night and had especially been looking forward to my sleep because I have a cold.  I don't have to work tonight, so there was no alarm to wake me up -- what a wonderful thing in and of itself!  This afternoon, my husband came in to wake me up with a cup of coffee (After thirty-three years, he knows that if he is going to wake me up, it is much better to have a cup of coffee in his hands!) 

Then he said, "How would you like some homemade donuts?"

He handed me a plate with two homemade, cinnamon sugar donuts.  Our beagle, Sparrow, who is my nap partner (she holds the World Record and Gold Medal in Naps) perked up too.  I took a bite and knew I was experiencing something exceptional.  I had just bit into a perfect donut.  

Now we grew up with Krispy Kreme.  We remember the old Krispy Kremes -- you know, before they changed the recipe, so I have had good donuts.  But this donut, this was absolutely incredible.  Crunchy crust on the outside, fluffy cake on the inside. . .perfect in every way.  Sparrow agreed.

I would have never thought a donut could lead to worship, but I found myself thanking the Lord for the experience of this wonderful culinary delight.  Only He could have imparted the wisdom and skill to mankind to give us such a recipe.  And speaking of grace and mercy beyond measure, I had not one, but TWO of these fantastic donuts!  (Which was good, because Sparrow's incredible beagle nose told her we had a delectable goodie on the plate and her pleading eyes made me share with her.  Her second Gold Medal is in Eating.)

I wonder how many opportunities for worship and thanksgiving I have missed because I took for granted all the great things the Lord has sent my way.  When I crawled into bed this morning, did I think to thank Him for the comfortable pillows?  Did I thank Him for the cold medicine that had enabled me to get through the night of work more easily?  How many moments of perfection, awe and grace have I simply missed?

May my blind eyes be enlightened to see Him in all things and to know more fully that, as my life motto says, "having Him, we have all."

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, 
and cometh down from the Father of lights, 
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
James 1:17

Saturday, August 27, 2011


It was one of the scariest nights of my life.  Sheer terror and complete helplessness combined in my heart to create an unbelievable feeling.  I wanted wings and had none.  I wanted the voice of a megaphone and didn't have it.  I wanted X-Ray vision and felt blind.  My legs couldn't carry me fast enough, my voice couldn't yell loud enough and my ears strained to hear a sound that wasn't there.

Emmie was lost.

She was about ten at the time.  She had gone outside to play with her scooter in the driveway.  It was almost dusk and I told her she had to be back inside before dark.  She had taken our dog Grunt, the most athletic beagle the Lord ever created, outside with her.

Several minutes passed and Emmie had not come back inside.  I began to be concerned and went outside to check on her.  I saw the scooter on the side of the lawn, but no Emmie.  Then I saw Grunt's leash and collar, but no Emmie.  From the vantage point of our house, I could see far down both directions on the circle on which we lived.  There was no evidence of girl nor dog.

I called Glen who had gone to the gym.  He quickly left to come home, telling me later he had gone 85mph traveling the streets between the gym and our house.

I took to the streets.  I called out her name.  I called Grunt's name (not that I expected him to come when called.  Grunt loved to escape and would not willingly return just because he had been called.)  With each step, my mind raced and began to formulate plans.  What would we do next?  When would we call the police?  Our son Noah was away at one of his advanced Marine Corps schools; our daughter Marie was in Tuscaloosa, neither would be available.  Who else could help, would help?

I don't know who called Tom, if it was me or Glen, but someone did.  Tom was, and still is, a dear friend and he adored Emmie.  I know the moment he received the call he dropped whatever he was doing and was on his way looking for her.

I was making my way back around the circle when Glen made it home.  I had not seen one glimpse of girl nor beagle. Glen went around in the car and I went in a different direction on foot.  Then the silver car pulled up and a young blonde girl tumbled out of the car.

Emmie was safe!  And so was Grunt, as Tom pulled him out of the back seat.

As Emmie was playing, Grunt had escaped his leash and tore off running. (Grunt running was a beautiful site to behold, unless you were the one chasing him!)  Emmie, who loved Grunt more than anyone else, took off after her dog.  Around the circle, down the street, toward the creek they went.  That's where Tom encountered them on his way to our house.

I didn't know whether to spank her or hug her again.  Imagine my relief that my precious daughter, only moments ago lost to me, was now found.  I didn't want to let her go.  My gratitude to Tom was, and still is, immense.

Just as the prodigal's father rejoiced to see his son return, so our Heavenly Father rejoices when His children return.  "For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found," (Luke 15:24).  It is the great joy of His heart to forgive, and He "delighteth in mercy."

The Ninety and Nine

There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold;
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare;
Away from the tender Shepherd’s care.

“Lord, Thou hast here Thy ninety and nine;
Are they not enough for Thee?”
But the Shepherd made answer: “This of Mine
Has wandered away from Me.
And although the road be rough and steep,
I go to the desert to find My sheep.”

But none of the ransomed ever knew
How deep were the waters crossed;
Nor how dark was the night the Lord passed through
Ere He found His sheep that was lost.
Out in the desert He heard its cry;
’Twas sick and helpless and ready to die.

“Lord, whence are those blood-drops all the way,
That mark out the mountain’s track?”
“They were shed for one who had gone astray
Ere the Shepherd could bring him back.”
“Lord, whence are Thy hands so rent and torn?”
“They’re pierced tonight by many a thorn.

And all through the mountains, thunder-riv’n,
And up from the rocky steep,
There arose a glad cry to the gate of heav’n,
“Rejoice! I have found My sheep!”
And the angels echoed around the throne,
“Rejoice, for the Lord brings back His own!”

Friday, August 26, 2011

There's A Train A-Comin'

Many years ago our family visited Washington, DC.  It was our first experience with a Metro subway system.  We were a little apprehensive before our arrival at being able to connect on the right train, but we quickly learned the system and found it to be one of the most enjoyable parts of our trip.

Years later when we went to Boston and New York, we looked forward to again navigating by subway.  This time, of course, we were using a much larger subway system.  Referring to the different colored trains, my daughter said of the NY subway system, "They use a whole box of crayons."  It was, indeed, much more complicated than in Washington.

Sometimes we got on the right train, sometimes we didn't.  But we were always looking for the right train. Anytime I see a television program depicting a subway, it takes me back to those times when we were waiting for our "right train".

In our Christian lives, we are also always looking for the "right train", or at least the right opportunities.  We are looking for opportunities to trust and believe God.  That is the train we want to be seated on, the train of faith in God.  We want to know we are on the right train and traveling in the right direction.

Often times our arrival at the correct station on the subway meant we were met with travelers rushing and pushing past us onto the train, and perhaps the occasional musician serenading up as we walked up the stairs to the daylight above.  But on the Train of Faith, there is something better waiting at the station.

As I heard a preacher say recently, "Someone is going to be waiting for us at the Depot up the Road."  The Lord Jesus is waiting for us at the station "up the Road" and we want to be sure we are on that "faith train" to Him.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Scars of Play

Almost every man I have ever known has a scar somewhere on his face -- often on his chin.  This is usually the result of an impact with another boy playing sports, or an impact with a fence or perhaps an impact with the headboard while jumping on the bed as a boy, as with my husband.

It seems it is just the lot of young boys to scar themselves up while playing.  Some boys would go running to Momma for comfort and first aid, others would bear their bloody injuries as honor badges among their friends.  It would be all the better if the injury required a few stitches!

In Heaven, all these scars -- in fact all bodily imperfections -- will be gone.  Our glorified bodies will be perfect.  The scars of the wounds of this life will be only shadows of memories so vague that they can't be recalled to life.

There will be one Man in Heaven however who will still bear the scars on His face.  The scars of the thorns which pierced the face of the Lord Jesus will forever remind us of His great love and sacrifice for us.  Imagine looking into that glorious face and seeing the faint reminders of His great suffering for us.  Imagine looking at His hand and forever knowing it was pierced for us that we might know eternal joy and peace.  Imagine looking at His feet and knowing that it was wounded for our transgressions that we might walk the path of eternal righteousness and holiness.

Forever won't be long enough to give thanks.

 "O give thanks unto the LORD; 
for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever."
Psalm 118:29

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hey Look, We Match!

It is amazing how many times my husband and I will be leaving the house and will turn to each other and realize that our outfits match.  Often we will be total replicas of each other. (Well, he doesn't wear heels and or carry a purse!)  We might not have noticed each other the whole time we were getting ready, but then at the last moment we realize we look alike.

When we began recording our music, I was amazed listening to just the vocal tracks.  I can sing quite low for a woman and there were times our voices would blend together in a way that I could not tell which voice was his and which was mine because they were so similar.  Even our voices matched.

Over the last thirty-three years, it seems my husband and I have been becoming more and more like each other.  We have melded. They say that happens.   I think that's a pretty good thing for a couple to do, to mold and conform to each other.  Sort of how a good old pair of shoes has conformed to all the particularities of your feet and finally feel really good when you slip them on. But there is a better conforming that is going on.

The Scriptures tell us that every day, the Lord is working to conform us to the image of "His dear Son".  If I was to be remade in the likeness of someone, that would surely be the likeness I would want to be remade into, the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Lord "works in and through us" to accomplish this, slowly working to remove that which doesn't need to be there and adding that which does.  Finally, one day in Glory, we will look at the Lord Jesus and say, "Hey we match!" 

That is, until we look at His hands and feet.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Waltons

I wanted to grow up with the Waltons. 

You remember the television series from the '70s. . .seven children, two loving parents, two supportive grandparents, all living together in the same house.  There were lots of smiles, lots of laughter, lots of homespun lessons as well as homespun clothes.  Even when children were unruly or disobedient, they were always loved and accepted.  Mainly there was always someone to be with, play with, love.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Image from Wikipedia
I did not grow up with the Waltons.

My sister was thirteen when I was born, my brothers ten and four.  By the time I was seven, my sister had married and moved over a thousand miles away.  It was the saddest event of my childhood.

My brothers, although willing to play the occasional game of kickball with me, had no time for a "baby sister".  (The name one brother still calls me to this day.)

There were no children my age in my neighborhood.  The closest was a boy who was about three years younger than I was.  Occasionally we would sit on our bikes and chat, but there was no one to actually play with.  Lets face it, most boys just don't know how to play with dolls.

School didn't offer me much opportunity for friendship either.  Shy, fat and not pretty (I have photos to prove this point) I wasn't very popular and didn't make friends easily or well.  It wasn't until I was in the eighth grade I had the pleasure of having a "best friend".

My best friend was with me the night I became a Christian.  That year was the beginning of the end of our friendship because she attended another school. My thoughts and desires changed since my heart had been changed so we didn't quite think along the same lines anymore, either.  While I found myself devoid again of earthly friends, there now resided in my spirit that Friend that is "closer than a brother".  A Friend that would never leave me, never forsake me, never disappoint me in anyway.

And what a miracle, with that Friend came a whole family of friends. . .of brothers and sisters who were bound to me with a bond that can never be broken.  A bond that is forged in the sacrifice of the cross.  A bond that is tied in the Savior's love.

Now I have friends closer than I could have ever imagined.  I have "friends" more innumerable than the stars in the sky.  I am a member of a family. . .a family of friends that is bigger, sweeter, more loving than the Waltons could have ever dreamed of being.  Our Father has more wisdom than John Walton could have ever mustered.  Our Elder Brother has more tenderness than John Boy's weepy eyes could have ever managed to convey.  Our Spirit has more sure guidance than Grandma could ever give even with her prodding broom.

What I have wished for has come upon me, abundantly beyond what I could ask or think.

"Delight thyself also in the LORD; 
and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart."
Psalm 37:4