Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Father's Song

I have worked in Labor & Delivery for over three decades and been in about 2800 deliveries.  During a delivery, we of course take care of the laboring mother.  We also care for the new baby when he or she arrives.  But we also must take care of the daddies.  It's often hard to predict how a new daddy will respond to the delivery, so we keep a close eye on them, as well.  Two daddies stand out particularly in my mind.

The first was one of the most attentive daddies I have ever seen.  His intent was clearly to be as supportive every minute of his wife's labor as he could possibly be.  At delivery, that particular physician liked to have the delivery table up as high as it could go.  This meant I couldn't easily see the daddy on "his side" of the table.  The healthy, beautiful baby was born and placed into its mother's waiting arms. I looked over to check on daddy, but I didn't see him.

I had to walk around to that side of the bed and then I saw him on his knees on the floor.  I asked if he was alright, and he looked up at me with tear-stained cheeks.

"Yes," he replied, "I just wanted to thank the Lord for a healthy baby."

I was so touched that the first thing this daddy wanted to do after seeing his baby was to get on his knees and thank the Lord!  What a great way to start the role of fatherhood.

This week, I encountered another -- though different -- thankful father.  

This was not my patient, but I was in the delivery helping my co-worker.  We had just come on for our shift, so these new parents were basically strangers to us.  The baby, another healthy, beautiful baby, was delivered and placed on the mother's tummy.  The nurse then  took the baby to dry her, put on her identification bands, and take her footprints.  When she finished, she handed the baby to the daddy.

Immediately, he began to sing to his daughter.  He sang hymn after hymn to her.  And not just one verse, but all of the verses to each hymn.  He must have sung ten or fifteen hymns to her, softly as he rocked her back and forth.

It reminded me of this verse in the Old Testament:

Zephaniah 3:17
"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." 

That was what this daddy was doing. . .he was joying over his child with singing.  

The Lord joys over us with singing, too.  He loves us so much and He rejoices in our love for Him that it brings a song to His lips.  We can't hear that song right now, because we aren't tuned in to the right frequency.  But there will be a day when we will hear His voice as He joys over us with singing, as He sings His love to us.
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

When you die. . .

It is visually bold.  The background is black, the words are white with red accents.  The message is direct and succinct:

When you die, you will meet God.

This billboard I saw along the highway recently made me wonder what people think of the powerful seven words  as they are speeding along the road.  

The point is, when we die we will each meet God. Thankfully, for some of us it will not be a "first-time" meeting.  For others it will be quite surprising.  

May we each meet our Lord well before that first millisecond after our earthly lives end.

"And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment"

Monday, September 16, 2013

Healing Hurt

A few months ago I developed a painful case of tennis elbow.  Don't let the diagnosis fool you into thinking I play tennis.  I don't know exactly what precipitated the injury, but I know it became so painful I sought the advice of a orthopedic surgeon.

As is the usual with this particular physician, he outlined all the possible treatment paths, then recommended what he would do if it were him.  I agreed with him and decided to let him inject my elbow with a steroid injection.

If I had to summarize the experience in two words they would be "Ouch. . .Wow!"  The steroid shot was  somewhat painful during the injection, but within a few hours it was extremely painful. Extremely painful. It continued to throb and ache all during the night, and of course, it was a night I was scheduled to work.

By the next evening the pain of the injection was gone, but also gone was the pain of the injury.  It was like a miracle.  There had been so much pain before that even sleeping had become difficult.  Now I couldn't tell I had a problem, unless I picked something heavy up in the wrong way.

The hurt of the shot brought healing.    The "ouch" brought the "Wow!"

Sometimes the Lord allows painful things in our lives because He knows He can use those to work out the very best in us.  Sometimes that pain results in a healing, a growth, a knowledge of Him we could have known in no other way.  Our choice in the times of those painful, difficult moments is to choose that His heart is work out all things for our good. 

 We can trust Him every moment of every day of our life.  

Romans 8:28,29
"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, 
to them who are the called according to His purpose.  
For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed 
to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren."

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Ugly Presents . . .Happy, Happy, Happy

At our house birthdays can often be celebrated over several days.  My first birthday present this year came a few days before my birthday and was not what I would have expected.

My husband presented me a cup emblazoned on one side with a picture of Phil Robertson, the father from the popular cable television show, "Duck Dynasty."  The other side bore the words, "Happy, Happy, Happy" which is a statement Phil is often heard to say on the show.

Now you may wonder about my response to such a present.  The fact is, I was thrilled.

"Duck Dynasty" is perhaps the only television show I want to watch on a routine basis.  I love the show, and I love the fact that this family is unabashed in their proclamation of their faith in Christ.  The words, "Happy, Happy, Happy" seem to succinctly express my own attitude of being "determined to be pleased."

A gift with a picture of a bearded, older man seems an unusual present for a woman, but the gift-giver knew exactly what would make the recipient happy.  Or "Happy, happy, happy."

Sometimes the Lord brings things into our lives that seem unusual, difficult, even painful.  These don't seem like very good "gifts."  But the Lord knows exactly what we need in our lives.  He knows exactly what we need to urge us to trust Him more, to seek His face, to rely on His grace.  He allows those things in our lives to conform us into the image of His Son.  His gifts, while sometimes wrapped in confusing, even ugly wrapping, are always what we need even if we don't know that at the time.

"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."

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Book of Life

In the Labor & Delivery unit where I work, each time a baby is born the details of that birth are written into the "delivery book."  Each delivery which has ever occurred at our hospital is recorded in these books, from the first birth almost thirty years ago to the last one occurring perhaps even as you read this.

Each of these books are lined up in sequential order and carefully locked away for safe keeping.  At any given time, any particular birth can be researched and verified.

There is another, more important "Book of Life," which is carefully preserved, not here on earth, but in heaven.

Revelation 20:12-15 "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.  And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Our delivery books are important, and we take great care to record the birth of every baby born in our unit.  But it is more important that we know our own names are recorded in the Lord's Book of Life.  

Make very sure this day does not wane before you know your name is written there, too.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Merry Martha

It is a wonder to meet someone who is often cheerful, but "Mrs. Martha," as I call her, is always --always -- cheerful.

Every single time I ask her if she had a good week, she replies with a positive answer.  If I ask her if she is feeling good, she gives back a definitive, "Yes!"

There is never any wavering in Mrs. Martha's cheerfulness, in her positive outlook on life.   She is a pleasure to be around, a joy to be with and someone I look forward to seeing each week.

Now if I told you Mrs.Martha lived in a fine house in the richest part of town, you might understand her great attitude.  Or if she spent her time flitting around the globe visiting exotic or beautiful sites and venues, we might see why she is so cheerful.

Mrs. Martha, however, spends her days in a wheelchair and the "exotic" or "beautiful sites and venues" she sees are the walls of the nursing care facility where she now lives.  One one think this would add a touch of sadness, disappointment or gloominess to her disposition.  But not Mrs. Martha, she is as cheerful as ever.  Why?  Because her joy is not based on her circumstances, they are based on a Person, the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.  

When our joy is found in Him, it cannot be shaken, stolen or removed simply because our circumstances change.  We have joy in every circumstance  because He is our joy -- joy unspeakable, as described in the Scriptures.  Mrs. Martha knows this great truth because she knows Him.

In 1869 a beautiful poem was written and published in the newspaper.  It was attributed simply to "Pauline T."  Later it was put to music and has become a very popular song.  I especially love one of the verses from that poem:

What tho my joys and comforts die?
The Lord, my Savior liveth!
What tho the darkness 'round me lie?
Songs in the night He giveth.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that Rock I'm clinging
Since Christ is Lord of Heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?

"A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance:"

I Peter 1:8,9