Friday, August 31, 2012

Eggs and Crepes

Crepe de Nutella y Banana
 (Photo credit: modulor)
Commemoration of each special event in our family includes a breakfast of crepes.  These paper-thin pancakes are filled with either a thick, chocolate ganache filling or a strawberry filling.  Then they are puffed with whipped cream inside.  A plate usually begins with "one of each".  Subsequent servings, which almost  always occur, can be one of each or two of a kind, whatever the eater desires.

I make all the crepes but I don't eat any of them because  I just don't like them.

Usually when I make crepes for everyone, (often with only a cup of coffee in my belly, because it takes so long to make all those crepes) my husband will afterward make eggs or an omelet for me.

The important thing about this is my husband doesn't like eggs.  He just isn't an "egg-man".  However, he knows that I love them and he has learned to make the very best scrambled eggs and the most amazing omelets I have ever eaten (especially when that omelet is filled with crabmeat!)

Today he brought me a plate of heaven. . . his wonderful scrambled eggs and perfectly cooked grits, and I was reminded of how he learned to master cooking a food he doesn't even care for just to please me because he knows I do.

This is a beautiful thing.  My husband has learned to care for those things that I care about, regardless of how he feels about them, because he cares about me.  He invests interest in me and the things I am interested in because he knows that is the best way not only to care about me, but to also take care of me.

This is just how Our Lord is with us.  He cares for us, He cares about us and He takes care of us.  Whatever it is in our lives that gives us joy. . .He cares about that.  Whatever it is that brings tears to our eyes, He cares about that too.  When we have need, He is our supply.  When we have abundance, He has been the provision. There is not a concern, a need, a pain, a joy, a question, a exclamation of happiness that has escaped His notice.  He is more attentive and loving than anything we can ever imagine.

He is totally and completely invested in us as His children.  He loves us and He "ever liveth to make intercession" for us. And for the cooking?

 "And the other disciples came in a little ship. . . As soon then as they were come to land, they saw a fire of coals there, and fish laid thereon, and bread. Jesus saith unto them, Bring of the fish which ye have now caught. . .Jesus saith unto them, Come and dine." John 21:8-12

Our Lord Jesus cooked for His disciples and I wouldn't be surprised if at some time in Heaven, He will cook for us too!  Maybe He'll cook some crepes for you and an omelet for me.

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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Bubble Killer

Our granddaughter Emma was going to take a bath the other day.  I had run the water and made sure there was enough bubble bath to make lots and lots of bubbles because Emma loves to play with the bubbles.  When she came into the bathroom she squealed with delight at seeing a tub full of sparkling little bubbles.
Three rubber ducks in foam bath
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In record time she shed all her clothes and climbed into the tub.  Before I could tell her not to, she grabbed a bar of soap.  Emma didn't know, but I knew, that soap was a major bubble killer.  You see, soap is a surfactant needed to stabilize bubbles.  That's why bubble bath bubbles last longer than regular water bubbles.  The soap mixture decreases the water's surface tension and prevents the weakest part of the bubble from further stretching.  When you add an additional soap, you further change the surface tension and  pop!  Away go your bubbles.

Emma was so disappointed that her pile of beautiful bubbles were gone.  I managed to recreate her bubble bath, and I restrained the impulse for an impromptu science lesson to a four year old, so in the end, we both were happy.

Sometimes in our own lives we inadvertently reach for a "major bubble killer."  We don't realize we are about to overwhelm our spirits and destroy our attitudes when we choose to complain.  David said:

"I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed," (Psalm 77:3).

When we choose to complain in our situations, we will have the same outcome as David.  Eventually our spirit will be overwhelmed.  And make no mistake about it, complaining is a choice.  I know because I have done my fair-share of it in my life. 

When we are faced with a situation, a conflict, a pain, a crisis. . .whatever it is, we have the choice to either complain or to give thanks. If that seems absurd, hear what the Apostle Paul had to say about it:

"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you," (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Now I am pretty sure that "everything" means just that, every thing. Lest we surmise that Paul is not talking about the bad things of life here, we should look at these verses:

 "And He said unto me, 'My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness.' Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Corinthians 12:9,10.)

Paul was certainly one who had his share of bad things, and yet he was led by the Holy Spirit to write the most incredible epistle about joy.  The same Holy Spirit who resided in the Apostle Paul resides in us and will lead us to thank the Lord in every situation. . .in sickness, in need, in persecution, in distress. . .everything.

Let  us not be those who kill our bubbles.  Let us walk around with the joy of the Lord bubbling around us so much that people just can't believe we could ever have any real problems!  Let us make the choice to rejoice and give thanksgiving to our Lord in the midst of anything this world can throw at us and may we each enjoy all our bubbles!

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Always Ready

It was the summer of 1992, our car was packed full and we were headed out of town for vacation.  As we headed east on one of the main roads in our city, about 200 yards down the road we witnessed a motor vehicle accident.

A young woman was driving a car very fast.  Very fast.  She had made a right turn onto the street on which we were traveling into the lane opposite us, but she must have clipped the curb.  Her car became airborne.  The flight was precipitously interrupted by a telephone pole on the corner of the intersection.

The young girl was thrown from the car onto the middle of the street.  By the time we had watched all this occur we were actually at the scene of the accident.  I told my husband to pull over in a nearby driveway and I ran to aid the girl.

You see, I carry in my wallet something that causes me to always be reading to lend aid.  It is from the Alabama Board of Nursing and it states I am a Registered Nurse.  In my mind, part of being a nurse is being "always ready."

As I approached the girl, she was seizing.  Without any medical equipment I felt helpless to aid her in anyway, but I could do that one thing that is the first in emergency care -- and the most important -- I held her airway open.  I talked to her as I did this and tried to reassure her that help was coming and that she would be taken to the hospital soon.

It was only a few minutes before the EMTs arrived. I told them what we had witnessed, what little I had done and gladly released my care to them.  I climbed back in the car and we started back on vacation.
As Christians, we have something in us that causes us to be "always ready" as well.  The Holy Spirit lives in us and causes us to be always ready.  This doesn't mean we rush to the scene of an accident, but our hearts should always be ready to pray for someone.  As my husband said recently, we should be ready to pray "at the drop of a heart."

Whenever a person comes into our mind, we can  lift up a quick prayer for them.  It doesn't have to be a long or complicated prayer. I am convinced the Lord would have us to pray more like children, simply and to the point.  In fact, this is part of the instruction on prayer the Lord Jesus gave His disciples:

"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking," (Matthew 6:7).

Sometimes we may even pass strangers in traffic or walking down the street.  We don't know why, but they touch our heart.  We don't know anything about them, and may feel helpless to pray -- much like I felt helpless with that girl out on the street.  But our Father in Heaven knows everything about that person.  We can do the most important thing of all for them, pray.  Even a simple prayer that the Lord will work in their lives where He sees need is a powerful tool in the hands of the Almighty. 

So let us always be ready and look for opportunities to intervene, to "save lives" through prayer.  May we use this great gift and privilege the Lord has given us to reach out to those around us.  We will not know until Heaven what the Lord has done with those simple, sincere and succinct prayers offered on the behalf of strangers.

Twenty years later, and I still remember the young girl thrown out onto the street.  When her face comes to my mind I still pray for her. I have no idea what happened to her after her accident. One of the most dramatic moments in her life seemed to be just a blimp in ours.  But God knows her and for years I have been "always ready" to care for her in a better sense to give her the best care I can give. . . prayer.

"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit,
 and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication 
for all saints;" 
(Ephesians 6:18) 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Not Our Own

One evening my daughter's boyfriend and his best friend were sitting around our dining room table and the question came up, "What one thing would you grab if your house was on fire?"

The question assumed all loved ones and loved pets were safely out of harm's way. . .what possession would you seek to save from the destruction of the flames?  Each person at the table had their various answers, some were sentimental, some were practical.

My mind flew to so many tokens of my children's childhoods, and remembrances of a long and beautiful marriage, but more than that, my mind flew to a day when I did indeed walk through my house choosing what would be saved, not from fire, but from wind.

It was a day much like today.  The curving outer rain bands of a hurricane swirled in the sky.  A category five hurricane was bearing down on our city and I was having to choose which of our belongings would fit into the car with us for the trip to the hospital.  As a nurse, I can always rely on the fact that I will be in the hospital during severe storms.

When faced with the possibility of losing everything, the possession of things takes on a different meaning.  I found there were very few things that I actually felt I needed to carry with me away from our house.  Once all four of us were packed (our oldest daughter was still living away at college at the time), we stood outside on our front yard, held hands and prayed over the house we had lived in for so many years. 

The truth is, it was and still is, not our house.  The things inside are not ours.  They are God's and we are merely the stewards of them.  He has the right to do with them as He will.  Acknowledging this, we drove away not knowing if we would ever see our home again.

More than our things, our very selves belong to God.  We have been bought with a price and we belong to God:

"What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?  For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's."  I Corinthians 6:19,20

What a sense of peace this can bring to our hearts to know that our things, our possessions and every our very being is His.  They are His to maintain and His to control.  We can let our fingers release their grasp and simply be the stewards He desires us to be.  In doing so, we will find more enjoyment, more pleasure and more satisfaction in what He has given us than when we tried to hold tightly to them lest they somehow slip away.

So what happened that stormy day when we drove away from home with the category five hurricane headed our way?  The storm came, but it just sort of fizzled out along the way and it ended up being only a lot of wind and rain.  Our house was just fine, our things were just fine.  But there was something more.  Deep in my heart I knew that I could live without those things.  Yes, there would be the feeling of loss, but I had walked away from them once.  I knew -- I still know -- that if called to do so again, the Lord Himself would be sufficient, would be all I would need to sustain and keep me.

What though my joys and comforts die?
The Lord my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness round me lie?
Songs in the night He giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm
Whilst to that Rock I'm clinging,
Since Christ is Lord of Heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
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Monday, August 27, 2012

A Happy Little Buoy

Recently I heard a preacher say that we would have a "buoyant attitude."  Of course my ears picked up at the word buoyant. 

My husband and I love to kayak and buoyancy is an important term to us.  Our kayaks are very buoyant.  They float across the water, carrying us and whatever we choose to bring with us from our put-in, to our destination and back.  Even when the waves kick up, our little boats rock on top of the waves and current keeping us safely out of the water.

Our life-jackets are also buoyant, which is exactly why we wear them.  We have tested them and I was very surprised when I slid off my kayak into the cool water of the river.  My body immediately plunged down under the surface and the buoyancy of my life-jacket helped to bob me right back up to the top.  It's no wonder they are called "personal flotation devices."

If something is buoyant, it is like a buoy. . .it bounces and bobbles on the surface regardless of the waves and current underneath.  Have you ever noticed how happy buoyant things look?  Kids on an inner tube?  A buoy nodding its head out in the bay? Our sweet little kayaks bouncing along the river?

If we have a buoyant attitude, we will be not just riding above, but bouncing above the problems and issues of our day.   So why is it that we don't always experience this buoyant attitude?  Perhaps we have the same problem David once did:

"I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed." Psalms 77:3

Complaining is just the opposite of buoyant.  Complaining is overwhelming.  It is dragging down and disturbing.  It is a weight that ties us down, like the ballast on a boat. There doesn't seem to be much happy about a person who is busy complaining.  And they certainly don't seem to be glorifying and praising the Lord!

So let us face each wave and current with the challenge to be buoyant and not to be overwhelmed.  To be lifted up by the knowledge that this moment did not take our Lord by surprise and that He is working even in this to work out His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus in and through us.  

Instead of complaining, let us offer up, as the Apostle Paul says, "the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name," (Hebrews 13:15.) 

 And let us remember it is the Lord's will that we face each new wave on the river with thanksgiving to Him, knowing that He is working in our lives to "work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose," (Romans 8:28) that we might be "conformed to the image of His Son."

"In every thing give thanks: 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Friday, August 24, 2012

"I Love You, Mom!"

Between the years of 1997 and 2000, I worked in my hospital's computer department.  I had my own computer and I soon learned to customize the sound on it.  I recorded my youngest daughter's voice, then six years old, and attached her saying certain phrases to actions of various programs.

For example, when I would open my email program, I would hear her voice say, "Mail's here, Mom!"  My very favorite of all those recordings, though, was the one which said, "I love you, Mom!"  Every time that particular program opened and I heard her sweet little voice saying those words, my heart swelled.  If I was having  particularly difficult day, I would open that program just to hear her proclamation of love.

As sweet as it was for me to hear those words from my daughter, it is even sweeter for the Lord to hear them from us, for He has paid a much dearer price to be able to call us sons and daughters.  He gave His only Son to the cruel death of Calvary that He might gain many sons and daughters through faith in His redemptive work on our behalf.  And our voice is sweet to His ears:

"O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let Me see thy countenance, let Me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely,"(Song of Solomon 2:14.)

Let us find many reasons throughout the day for Him to hear our voice.  Let us cause the things in our lives which bring us joy to take praise and thanksgiving to His ear.  Let us use the things which bring us sorrow and suffering to bring supplication and intercession to His heart.  Let us lift our voice to Him and let Him hear it as a music ringing true with love and adoration to Him echoing the Love and adoration He showers upon us with each breath we enjoy.

"If my voice is sweet to you, Lord, 
As Your Word declares, 
And if somehow you find delight in my prayers. 
And if Your face You call me to seek, Lord, 
Your face I will seek… 
And my voice You will hear…"

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Off The Beam

 My daughters and I, as well as my friends at work, enjoyed watching the Olympic gymnastic competition this year.

How many times in her gymnastic career do you suppose Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas has fallen off the balance beam?  I imagine that during her practices, especially when learning a new routine, falling off the beam is as important part of learning the routine as staying on the beam.

While watching the Olympic athletes compete in this event (which is only performed by the female gymnasts), many of us wondered if we could even walk on the 3.9 inch beam, much less do the complicated combinations of dance and acrobatic elements required for a balance beam routine.

According to The Daily of the University of Washington, the balance beam is probably the hardest of all the gymnastic events:

"As thousands of fans look on, with judges scrutinizing every tiny movement, every gymnast shoulders her team’s fate alone during her routine on each event. So the biggest challenge on beam has nothing to do with a gymnast’s physical ability; it rests in her brain.
“You have to have tunnel vision,” UW head coach Joanne Bowers said. “You need to be very confident in your own ability and be able to block out anything around you. Beam is probably the hardest to do that out of any other event.”

According to this article, to develop tunnel vision, the UW relies on pressure drills, including one where one gymnast performs her routine while her teammates throw things and yell as distractions. The Huskies are trained to think about key words during each of their skills to keep their minds focused on the task at hand.

While falling off the beam is never the optimal performance, if you do fall off, getting back on, and doing so quickly (in the Olympics the athlete has 30 seconds to remount the beam) is tantamount to success.

In our Christian lives we too must "walk a beam":

 "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way,
 that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, 
and few there be that find it." 
Matthew 7:13,14.

Our path is, like the balance beam, narrow.  Our way to walk requires a constant balance and focus.  And, like those gymnastic athletes of the University of Washington, we have those, those who are enemies, who throw things at us and yell at us along the way, hoping we will not only fall off the beam but also never attempt a re-mount.

If we should fall let us not concentrate on the fall, but rather the re-mount.  It is our Father's great desire to forgive us, to shower His great mercy upon us and He is at the sideline cheering us on to victory.

Little Gabby Douglas may have many times fallen off that balance beam, but today she wears a gold medal around her neck as a symbol to all that she is a champion, one who has not quit.  She is one who has continued to get up and remount.  Let us hold her up as an example and an encouragement to get up and re-mount.

And I give all the glory to God,” said Gabby Douglas after winning Olympic gold,  “It's kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to Him and the blessings fall down on me.
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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Not Done Being Mad

Once we were traveling down the road and I was discussing how mad I was at someone.  Actually, I was fuming and ranting.

When I stopped to take a breath, Glen said, "You know you have to forgive that person."

My reply bespoke as much of my stubbornness as it did my temper, "I know, but I'm not done being mad at her yet!"

Thank goodness our Lord does not have that same inclination to harbor grievances toward us.  In fact, quite the opposite is true for the Scriptures tell is that "He delighteth in mercy."  Our Heavenly Father is not only willing to forgive, He is quick to do so, and He impress us to be the same.

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."  (Ephesians 4:32)

So the next time I want to hang onto my anger, as my Greek/Irish temperament may want me to, I pray I will remember that I have been forgiven so much that I should choose to quickly and really forgive others.  What a sweet testimony this will be to them, and to others of Christ forgiveness of us.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Wages and Gifts

One of the things I have been responsible for at work is the time edit for the nurses in my unit.  I check their clock in and clock out times to make sure they are all there.  I make adjustments for vacation and sick time.  I make sure they are paid correctly when they are on-call or are called in.  The completed time edit is a preview in hours to what their paycheck will be in dollars. I can attest from personal experience there are nurses who are aware if their check is short by even a little.  Interestingly, few ever seem to come to tell me their check was more than they expected.

The paycheck is the wages for hours worked.  Each nurse is paid a certain wage, depending upon her length of service and her evaluations over the years.  One year however, we were given money of a different sort.

It was the hospital's thirtieth anniversary.  Each employee was invited to the Boardroom downstairs in Administration.  Once there they were able to speak to, or for some, meet the hospital's owner, President and Administrator.  Then they were given a gift bag.  In the bag was a beautiful glass with the hospital likeness itched on the side.  But that wasn't the part of the gift which impressed most employees.  Inside the glass was a crisp, new $50 bill.  Now that was impressive.  It wasn't a wage and it wasn't expected.  It was a gift.  It was a complete surprise and it was an unexpected favor.

Each of us as humans has a "time edit" upon which wages have been marked.  These are anything in our lives which has not lived up to the standard of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The Bible tells us, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;" ( Romans 3:23.)

I have heard some say they believe that in the end of time if what they do good outweighs what they do bad, then they will go to Heaven.  The problem is that our "goodness" just isn't good enough.  In fact, no one is good, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:" (Romans 3:10.)  Even if we try really hard to do good things, we are doing them in power of our own flesh which has a fundamental law of sin in it, and those things cannot be accepted in the eyes of God. "Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight:" (Romans 3:20.)

Apart from the Lord, we will receive the wages we have earned in this life. . ."the wages of sin is death. . ." (Romans 6:23.)  We will spend our eternity in separation from the Lord Jesus (and our heart will at that time desperately want to be with Him, and we will forever know want and hunger and sadness and pain and darkness.

But thankfully, that is not the end of the verse in Romans.  It continues, ". . .but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."  We deserve death, that is the wages of our sin.  But there is also a free gift, something we did not earn, something unexpected, a favor unmerited by our sinful, rebellious flesh.  The gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.  It is a gift and by accepting the gift we come to know more joy and peace and love and light than we could have ever expected.  Our future becomes not a question mark but a glorious exclamation mark.  But we must accept the gift, we must accept Him as our Redeemer, our Saviour, our Lord.  We must admit that He is indeed the only way and we humbly accept His role as Saviour and Lord in our lives. Then we will look toward the most wonderful days ahead. . .more incredible than our imaginations can begin to fathom. 

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.
For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; 
but that the world through Him might be saved.
He that believeth on Him is not condemned: 
but he that believeth not is condemned already, 
because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 
John 3:16-18

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Friday, August 17, 2012

The Sound of Silence

We live in a world of sound. There is sound all around piped in every store, every building.
Teens sharing earphones, listening music outdo...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Even in places where sound is not piped in you will see people with their headphones or earbuds plugged in to pipe in their own choice of music.

Other, non-melodic sounds (although I have heard some pretty non-melodic music these days) abound in our lives as well.  Car engines, jet engines, motors of all sorts, trains, electrical appliances. . .the list could go on and on.

On Sunday morning at 3am, for us, the sound stopped.  We experienced the "Sound of silence."

It was pretty dramatic for us because we have for thirty-four years slept with some form of white-noise, usually a floor fan.  Also, right outside our bedroom window is an air conditioning unit, providing more rumbling noise.  At 3am, when all that stopped the resulting silence was incredibly loud.  There was nothing.

Glen got out of bed and walked down the hallway to the back door, (When the power is out, you always want to make sure you aren't the only one with a power outage on the block!)  I could hear his foot-falls on the ceramic tiles all the way to the kitchen.  Then I heard. . .nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  If I strained, I could hear my own breath coming in and out.

How rare is that to hear nothing?  Not a sound.  Silence.  As peaceful as that sounds, I didn't like it.  It felt discomforting for some reason.  Then there was an incredible provision of the Lord when we didn't even know we were going to need a provision.

When the power goes out in the middle of the night in August in the deep South, the first thing you think of is, "Oh, no! No air conditioner!"  The thought can be horrifying.  We have spent too many sleepless nights after hurricanes trying to find some cool spot to sleep and being rewarded with only sweat and tiredness for our efforts.

Glen came back from his sojourn outside with wonderful news. "Open up the windows, it's actually cool outside."  I didn't believe this could be true in August, but I opened up the windows and felt a cool wafting of air pass across my face.  We laid back down in relative comfort and listened now to the crickets and the whirl of the jet engines at the nearby airport.  It was even possible to sleep.

"And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book,  
neither to look thereon. And one of the elders saith unto me, 
Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, 
hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. 
(Revelation 5:4,5)   
And when He had opened the seventh seal, 
there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour."
 (Revelation 8:1)
What will it be like in that day when the Lion of the tribe of Judah has opened the last seal of the book and there is silence in heaven for the space of half and hour.  The book of Revelation tells us that the four beasts around the throne of God "rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come."  But they will be silent for this period of time.  There will be silence, silence in a place which is usually full of the praises of the Lord.

What a heart of love and pity that the Lord calls for a moment of silence before pouring out this great judgment on an unrepentant creation.  How His heart which "delighteth in mercy" must break at His unredeemed creation.  Salvation was freely offered to a willful, sinful mankind at the price of God's beloved Son and the offer was rejected by many.

"And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying,
Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, 
and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, 
and God Himself shall be with them,
and be their God.
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; 

and there shall be no more death, 
neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: 
for the former things are passed away.
 And He that sat upon the throne said, 

Behold, I make all things new. 
And He said unto me, 
Write: for these words are true and faithful.
 And He said unto me, It is done. 

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. 
I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.
 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; 

and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, 

and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, 
and all liars, shall have their part in the lake 
which burneth with fire and brimstone: 
which is the second death. 
(Revelation 21:3-8)
He which testifieth these things saith,
Surely I come quickly. Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus." 
(Revelation 22:20

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

"Raise Your Arms a Little Higher!"

Several months ago we purchased a Kinect system for our grandchildren to use.  Then we discovered it was a great system for us to use as well.  With the Kinect video game system, you see yourself moving on the screen and what you do is what the character in the game does.

In the exercise game we have, you actually see your real-life self on the screen, not an avatar (which can be depressing while you are working out.)  As you perform the work-out, the sensor judges how well you are performing the action and tells you, "Raise you arms a little higher!" or "Squat a little deeper, please!"    She lets you know if you are doing something wrong and if you are doing it right, your whole body on the screen lights up and glows golden.  The instant gratification and feedback is very helpful in learning new exercises. 

In our Christian lives, we need that sort of feedback and correction as well.  Our perspectives and thoughts aren't always true or parallel to the Scriptures.   For example, how many times have you heard someone "quote" the Bible by saying, "God loves those that help themselves."  Well, the problem with that is that is isn't in the Bible.  You just won't find that anywhere in Scripture.

We have to be open not only to learning the Word of God and His truths, but also to unlearning those things we have believed to be His truths and things we have believed the Word of God to say.  I know there have been times I have stated to my husband that a particular verse said something and he said, "Read it again."  Upon more careful reading, I realized I was inferring what I thought the verse said, not what the verse actually said.

Sometimes we take for fact those things that are passed down as legend.  For example, if asked how many of each animal did Noah take on the ark, most people will answer, "Two."  That is partially correct.    The Lord did command Noah to take two of each, but He also commanded:

 "Of every clean beast thou shalt take to thee by sevens, the male and his female: and of beasts that are not clean by two, the male and his female.  Of fowls also of the air by sevens, the male and the female; to keep seed alive upon the face of all the earth." Genesis 7:2,3

So the answer is really, two of every unclean and seven of every clean animal and the fowl (because they would have to make sacrifices of the clean animals and fowl.)

Paul tells us in 2 Timothy that "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works," (2 Timothy 3:16, 17.)

As with Jeremiah, sometimes the Lord sets about to root out, to pull down and destroy and some times He sets out to build and to plant.  The Lord uses Scripture in our lives not just for our encouragement, instruction and edification, but also for our reproof and our correction.   If we feel we lack wisdom, James tells us to ask of God, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him, " (James 1:5.)

It is important we avail ourselves of those corrective agents the Lord has set in our lives: the Scriptures, the fellowship of other Christians and the communion of the Holy Spirit.  If remain sensitive and faithful to them, it is likely there will be much more planting and building up than there will be rooting up and pulling down.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What a Testimony!

The best descriptions of others are the things you hear said about them when people weren't trying to say things about them.

We were at a Men's Prayer meeting this morning and the coordinator of the meeting was discussing the missing members.  He told the group that all the missing members were accounted for (meaning that none were ill that no one knew about.)  Then he spoke of one man we'll call "John".

He said, "We don't know what John is doing, but we know he loves the Lord, so we know he is OK."

What an incredible testimony to be said of "John".  Basically it was, we don't know what he is up to right now, but we know him well enough to know he wouldn't do anything that would bring dishonor to his Lord.  I don't think you can have anyone say anything much better of you than that.

The men in this Prayer Meeting are all wonderful Christian men who dedicate one  morning of their week to pray over a sheet full of prayer requests.  They take this job very seriously and they don't gather to gossip or tell jokes or stories.  (Although a joke or story or two might be told along the way.)  Their purpose is to pray and they DO pray.  It is always an honor and a blessing to us when we are invited and available to attend their meeting (I am especially blessed to be the only woman in the room.)  To have a group of stellar Christian men make this type of statement about one of their own, gives the testimony even more weight.

Would that my life would be lived so that others would speak so of me in my absence.

"I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, 
Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy,  
For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; 
Being confident of this very thing,
 that He which hath begun a good work in you 
will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ" 
Philippians 1:3-6

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Smell of Smoke

Beef and Corn on a Charcoal BBQ grill
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Glen is great at grilling and I love it when he says he is grilling something for dinner.  But when he grills, he smells like smoke.  Everything takes on the smell of smoke, his skin, his clothes, his hair...well, no, I guess not that.

I love the story of in the book of Daniel of  Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  But you might know it better as the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, the names given to them by the prince of the eunuchs of Babylon.

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah would not bow down and worship the image set up by Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, even though the penalty for not doing so was to be cast into a fiery furnace.

Their answer to Nebuchadnezzar was:

"If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up," (Daniel 3:17,18)

In his fury, Nebuchadnezzar had the three men thrown into a fire so hot that it killed the guards who threw them in.  Yet, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah not only lived, they walked in the fire, along with a fourth man who "is like the Son of God."

Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah came out of the furnace alive, the fire having no power over their  bodies, not a hair of their head singed, their clothes were not burned, "nor the smell of fire had passed on them."

When I think of Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah coming out of that fire without the smell of smoke, I think of how many times in my own life I have passed through a fiery trial (though not literally, thank the Lord.)  I have come out to give the Lord thanks in the midst of the trial, but yet I allowed the "smell of smoke" to linger on me.  What I mean by that is, I didn't have as joyful an attitude as I should have had in and after the situation.  I didn't seek to praise the Lord in the midst of the suffering as I should have. Maybe I complained about my situation too much.  Maybe I tried to blame others for it instead of just praising the Lord and thanking Him. Maybe I concentrated more on the problem than on the Lord as the solution.  Maybe I felt a needed to let everyone know I had a problem. The point is,  I smelled too much like smoke.  My clothes were scorched and my hair was singed.

Sometimes this is evident by the "but" in our sentences.  "I'm trusting the Lord about this, but. . ." is usually an indication of the smell of smoke.  We end the sentence, in fact we probably end the whole paragraph, with the problem instead of the Lord as the solution, instead of the affirmation of faith in the Lord.  This is especially true since grammatically "but" usually implies a contrast or exception, but not always.

It is different if the sentence is like this:  "I'm being thrown in the furnace, but the Lord is going to deliver me out of the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar.  Even if He doesn't, I'm not going to bow down to the graven image.  I'm going to have faith in my Lord."   There's a big difference in where that "but" falls as to whether or not there is the smell of smoke in the sentence.

We know we should not be surprised that there are troubles out there coming our way.  It is my hope that we will face them with the same firm faith and conviction as our brothers Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah.  May we walk out of our own "fiery furnances" knowing we have walked with that "Fourth Form" and knowing that others around us sense no "smell of the fire."  May they only sense the sweet fragrance of the Rose of Sharon who resides in and through us.

"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy."  
1 Peter 4:12, 13

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Monday, August 13, 2012

Where does it hurt? Why does it hurt?

As a nurse, especially as a Labor & Delivery nurse, I have spent a great deal of my professional time dealing with pain.

When a patient comes in complaining of pain, it is our job to determine where the pain is, how long the patient has been hurting, what type of pain it is (throbbing, stabbing, sharp, dull) and how intense the pain is.  The answers to all these questions can lead us to the cause of the pain.  This is important because not every pain in the abdomen of the pregnant woman is the result of labor.  Sometimes pregnant women can have gallbladder problems, kidney stones or even appendicitis.  The pain if properly chronicled can be diagnostic.  It can help to teach us where to look for the problem.

This is one reason we experience pain in our personal lives as well.  The Lord allows pain to come to us to point out areas which need to be changed, which are not in accordance to His word or His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.  The pain leads us to seek advice, spiritual counsel and the support and prayer of our leaders and fellow believers in Christ.  The pain often keeps us from making the same mistakes we have made in the past, it is a reminder to us.  Sometimes it can be like a medicine promoting healing to our soul.

 "The LORD will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing:Thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.  I said, LORD, be merciful unto me: heal my soul; for I have sinned against Thee."  Psalm 41:3,4

There is a particular type of pain some pregnant women experience which can be extremely intense but, except for the fact it is painful, has no negative consequence to either the mother or baby.  This occurs when the round ligaments which support the uterus on each side begin to pull and tighten too quickly.   

I had never had this with my first two pregnancies but I had taken care of numerous patients experiencing this painful condition.  It wasn't until my last pregnancy I experienced "round ligament pain" for myself.  Suddenly I realized I had not been nearly sympathetic enough to all those women I had taken care of with this condition.  I know that now I have much more empathy for my patients who have this and I totally understand the amount of pain they are going through when they experience this.

The pain gave me empathy.  Sometimes we are allowed to go through painful things so that we can minister comfort to others because we have suffered ourselves.  There is a difference offering comfort to someone when you have no idea what there suffering is like and when you have been there yourself.

"Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God." (2 Corinthians 1:3,4)

Sometimes pain is allowed in our lives as a way of leading us to prayer, especially for others.  The pain -- often a deep, burdensome pain -- is a reminder to pray for that person.  I have had these types of pain for my children and for dear friends on several occasions.  They would call with desperate problems and I would find my heart torn for their pain and their suffering.  That pain would inevitably lead me to prayer. Then again, perhaps only a few minutes later, the pain would again remind me and again I would pray (because often there is nothing else we can do and nothing else more effective to do.)  The Lord knows we pray most effectively and most fervently when we feel helpless and are in pain for others.    This pain is a mere shadow -- a child's sketch of the oil painting Luke paints for us of the  pain the Lord Jesus must have had praying in Gethsemane:

"And being in an agony He prayed more earnestly: and His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground."  Luke 22:44

So when we have those pains of the heart, the burdens of the spirit, may we not immediately seek to distract ourselves from them or even to eradicate them.  May we first ask the Lord what purpose they serve in our lives.  May we seek to utilize even the pains of this life as tools to glorify our Lord and work out His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.

 "And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9,10

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Fleetingness of Life...The Eternalness of Life

This year on my birthday, actually in 22 days, I will become a senior citizen.
Birthday Cake
Birthday Cake (Photo credit: Will Clayton)

I really don't mind the change in status.  I am the last of my siblings to enter this grand group and the last of our group of friends to do so.  But as the days wear on I am more and more aware of the fleetingness of life.

My days seem to fly by.  I can't believe we are almost at September -- it seems we just started the year, how can it be almost Labor Day?  The older I get the faster the days, the weeks and the years go by.

I am thinking even more of the fleetingness of life because the father of a friend of ours has passed away and anytime death comes close to any of our lives we are reminded of just how short our "three-score and ten" years are upon this earth.

Fleeting.  But for those of us who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord, life is eternal.  This mortal body of flesh and blood will one day pass away (if the Lord tarries,) but we will live eternally.  In fact, the moment our fleshly heart ceases to beat, our spiritual heart will know joy unspeakable and full of grace unlike anything we can possibly even imagine.  There will not be a pause, not a delay, not a layover for another flight.  It will be instantaneous joy, peace and love in the presence of the One who IS joy and peace and love.

Yes, this life is fleeting.  Our bodies age, they weaken, they decline and eventually they die.  But we --that spiritual part of us that is united to the the Spirit of God in such perfect unity the Scriptures declared it to be "one spirit" (1 Corinthians 6:17) -- we will live forever in the exciting eternity of discovering new facets and wonders of our Lord.  We will forever swim in the "shoreless ocean" that can never be fathomed, that knows no limits.  As A. W. Tozer has written:
The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition. That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the Kingdom of God. It is, however, not an end but an inception, for now begins the glorious pursuit, the heart’s happy exploration of the infinite riches of the Godhead. That is where we begin, I say, but where we stop no one has yet discovered, for there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end.

         Shoreless Ocean, who can sound Thee?
         Thine own eternity is round Thee,
         Majesty divine!

To have found God and still to pursue God is the soul’s paradox of love, scorned indeed by the too-easily-satisfied religionist, but justified in happy experience by the children of the burning heart. St. Bernard stated this holy paradox in a musical quatrain that will be instantly understood by every worshipping soul:

         We taste Thee, O Thou Living Bread,
         And long to feast upon Thee still:
         We drink of Thee, the Fountainhead,
         And thirst our souls from Thee to fill.

(A. W. Tozer, 1897-1963, alt.)

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Friday, August 10, 2012


Last weekend, to celebrate our grandson Jackson's birthday, we had a mini "Olympics." 

We set the sprinkler out in the middle of everything (to symbolize our Olympic torch).  I had ten distance markers printed which marked out the sixty feet of our Olympic field and we had four Olympic events.  A carved pool noodle was our Javelin for the Javelin throw;   a water balloon was the shot put;   water guns were used for aquatic Shooting and we had a 5 yard Sprint -- accomplished by hopping on one foot.

After each event the participants would come over to the medal area. The silver medal winner would receive their medal first and then the gold medal winner would stand on the medal platform.  A gold medal (actually a chocolate, gold-foil covered candy) was placed around his or her neck while Granddaddy hummed the National Anthem.

I was amazed at how proud each child was in receiving their "gold medal."  Jackson's chest particularly stuck out with pride as the medal was placed around his neck.  He did not appear any less proud than those athletes in London.  Jackson won three gold medals in our Olympics and Emma won one.  Everyone had a chance to stand on the platform and be the gold medal winner.

There is a day coming when we shall be rewarded for our work, as Jackson and Emma, and the dedicated athletes of the real Olympics, are rewarded with their medals.

The Scriptures tell us, speaking of our works:

"Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.  If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire."  I Corinthians 3:12-15

In that day we will experience loss or we will experience gain.  It is my belief that there will be things in our "pile" of works of which we have been especially proud which will flare up in smoke and remain only as ash.  There will be others to which we gave little or no thought in this life which we will see remains as "gold, silver, precious stones" after the fire of judgment.

The thing that I find so interesting about the time of judgment though, and one that gives my heart great comfort, is this verse:

"Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God," (1 Corinthians 4:5) 

Just as our little Jackson and Emma both received praise and medals, this says "then shall every man have praise of God."  How sweet to know we can be certain of having praise from our Lord. 

Even though we may experience tears at the loss we have suffered, I can picture our kind Lord, with the tender hand of the loving Father, wiping away those tears and giving us a word of praise which soothes our pain and comforts our heart.  The praise of men may be wonderful, but the praise of our Lord must be the most glorious sound in eternity.

"The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; 
He will save, 
He will rejoice over thee with joy; 
He will rest in his love, 
He will joy over thee with singing."  
Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Peace Be Unto You

"Are you at peace?"

This is a question I posed to my husband the other day, even though I knew his answer would be "Yes." 

Glen and I love to kayak.  There are many times we have paddled into an area of water so still the reflection is like glass.  The water seems to be at a perfect standstill -- completely peaceful.  But in truth it never is. 

There is always a current in the river, the water underneath moving and turning, flowing but without a hint of movement on the surface.  This water is like people I know who are peaceful people.  Even though life may throw them a curve now and then, even though they are facing great currents and turmoils, they remain peaceful.

Then there are some Christians whom I don't think of as exactly peaceful people.  They seem stirred, disturbed, troubled and even in downright crisis.

So the second question I asked my husband was, "If a Christian is not at peace, why is that?"  I thought I had a pretty good answer but his was much better than mine:

"So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief." 
Hebrews 3:19 

 If we are in turmoil, stirred up, disturbed or troubled as Christians, if we are -- as one person I know says, are "in a real crisis", why is that? I think it is probably because there is something somewhere in our lives that we haven't yet or won't yet trust to the authority of the Lord Jesus.  Something we just won't take our hands off of to let Him have it.

In our conversation, I told Glen how there are some chores I will let our grandchildren do.  Our granddaughter Emma particularly loves dusting (I think she just loves to play with the duster.)  There are some chores, though, that I simply cannot trust them to do because I don't believe they will do them well or the way I want them done. Perhaps that is how we are with the Lord sometimes.

Perhaps when we are in a turmoil over something, it is because we know we should trust the Lord about it, but we don't want to because we don't want Him to have it lest He do it differently than we want it done! We are wrongly afraid of what He might do with our situation.

There have been so many times in my own life when I had an expectation for an outcome, I just knew how it should all play out.  I trusted the Lord during the calamity of it, but it didn't play out at all the way I expected.  It turned out infinitely better than I could have imagined.  The times I didn't trust Him and sought to do things my own way, well. . . I'd just rather not talk about those.

When the Lord Jesus was walking on the water to the disciples in the boat, Peter asked the Lord to bid him to come to Him and the Lord Jesus did so.  Peter began to walk on the water.  Then his sight shifted from the Lord to the waves, he began to be fearful and to sink.  He had to cry out to the Lord again, but this time for the Lord to save him.  He went from a man of faith to a man of failure; from a man of seeking to a man of sinking,  in a matter of seconds. 

 "And immediately Jesus stretched forth His hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matthew 14:31)

"Wherefore didst thou doubt?"  When we experience turmoil instead of peace, when worry becomes our pillow, we can ask ourselves the same question.  Why do we doubt the One who can walk on water and calm the winds and the waves?  Why do we question the wisdom of the One  who "telleth the number of the stars...calleth them all by their names," (Psalm 147:4)?

In Revelation 19 the Apostle John said, "And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and He that sat upon Him was called Faithful and True... And He hath on His vesture and on His thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS."  If God the Father has bestowed the names of "Faithful and True," "King of Kings" and "Lord of Lords" upon the Lord Jesus Christ, then there is one thing we can be completely sure of, we can trust Him with absolutely everything in our lives.  Be it big or small, long-term or fleeting, He is trustworthy and He will always be so.

Whatever that thing is in our lives that is threatening to rob our peace, whatever is furrowing our brow and wringing our hands, let us give it to Him at last and forever.  He can handle our problems with perfect wisdom and infinite understanding and He wants us to know His peace.

 "Peace I leave with you, 
My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. 
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."  
John 14:27

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Littlest Member. . .

How important is the little toe?

You can ask my youngest daughter who took a tumble down a narrow set of stairs in England and broke her little toe.  That "littlest member" gave her quite a bit of discomfort and pain as she continued her sight-seeing throughout England and Italy.

I don't have to ask her, though.  I have a little toe which has a tight tendon.  The little toe likes to pull down toward my foot.  Sometimes it makes it very uncomfortable to wear shoes.  Because it is a chronic condition, it has made the tendons in my calf tight, even resulting in some very painful cramps.

The tightening of the tendons in my calf has led to some tightening in the tendons of my lower back, resulting in some back soreness.  One thing has led to another all the way up my back.  That toe is a little thing, but it is not alone.  It is connected to the rest of me and affects how the rest of my body moves and operates.

The Scriptures tell us that each of us is part of the body of Christ.  We are "the body of Christ, and members in particular," (1 Corinthians 12:27.)  Each of us has a particular purpose and reason for existing in the body.  And just as our individual body parts each send messages to the brain, we each individually communicate with Christ our Head separate from the other members of the body.

Yet, we are joined together in a beautiful and mysterious union through the Spirit of Christ our Lord.  Our lives, our choices, our actions affect the lives of those other members in the body of Christ in ways we may not be able to understand until we reach Heaven.  Just as my little toe has an influence on my back.  "And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it," (I Corinthians 12:26.) 

 When we are tempted to feel alone, to believe the Lord has left us isolated in this world, let us instead choose to believe we are part of a huge and glorious body of believers.  But more than that, let us take action in our belief.

If we are tempted to despair, let us pray for believers in this body who may also be facing that same temptation that they will know the Lord's encouragement and strengthening.  If we are tempted to sadness, let us pray for believers who may be facing the same temptation that they may know the Lord's joy and peace.  There is  not a temptation that faces us that we cannot turn into a prayer for someone else in the body of Christ.  We don't have to know their names because the Lord Jesus knows their names, He will take care of the rest.

Let us take advantage of all the slings and arrows of this world hurled at us to lift a shield of prayer for others perhaps on the other side of the world facing the same -- or even worse -- temptation.  Let us use the enemy's weapons of destruction as our weapons of good as we remember we are "not one member, but many," (1 Corinthians 12:14.)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Remembering. . .

Some dates are easier to remember.  I have yet to encounter very many mothers who cannot tell me exactly when each of her children were born.  It seems for some men, wedding dates are a little more difficult to remember.  Birth dates of family members might need to be written on the calendar.  I never have to write down my brother Chester's birthday, though, because I was born on his fourth birthday.

The 1st of August is a date I remember, but reluctantly so. 

My mother died fifteen years ago this day.  As deaths go, it was a very beautiful and dignified one.  She died in her own bed, surrounded by her children and her husband's only living sibling.  She had lapsed into a slow peaceful sleep and simply stopped breathing.  It couldn't have been a more peaceful passing from this life to the next.  The only problem was I had never imagined my mother would die.

I had rehearsed my father's death in my head from the time his brother died suddenly when I was sixteen.  I lived with a fear of my father's death for thirty years, but I never even considered my mother's death.  Her mother had been killed in a car wreck and her father lived well into his nineties.  I think I thought Momma would live forever.

I was amazed at the depth and length of my grief over my mother's death.  Had the hospice program not sent me information stating that the grief would be longer than we would think it should be, I would have thought I was going crazy.  Even to this day, sometimes it takes me by surprise and I find myself in tears.

Yet there is a flame of hope and joy which remains.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will see my mother again.  This separation is only temporary.  There will come a day when the "Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord,"  (Thessalonians 4:16, 17.) 

What a great union is planned when we join with all our loved ones in Christ who have gone before us and then we meet the Lord in the air.  What a time of rejoicing and a time to shout out, "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?" (1 Corinthians 15:55.)

"Wherefore comfort one another with these words."
1 Thessalonians 4:18