Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"There's a Train A-comin' "

In a few weeks, my husband I will leave for New York, a trip for which we have been planning (and saving) for almost three years.  In the early stages of planning we decided we would love to travel the 1200+ miles by train.

I have never been on a train and my husband hasn't done it since he was a little boy.  Our tickets have been purchased and printed and I have researched all the details of train travel.  Although the experience will be totally new to me, I am not frightened.  In fact, I am highly anticipating it.  

There is another "trip" in the future for which my ticket has been purchased and of which I am highly anticipating.  But, unlike our trip to New York where I am literally (ask my co-workers) counting the days, I don't know the departure date of this trip.

There will come a day when I leave this world for that heavenly realm.  The Lord Jesus purchased my ticket with His very life.  It was a gift from Him to me and all I had to do was receive it by faith.  I, obviously, have never traveled this trip, but I am not fearful of it either.  I know the "Conductor" of this train and I have already been told in His "travel guide" that "Safety is of the Lord," (Proverbs 21:31.)

Our Conductor, Jesus Christ,  is the only One in the universe is perfectly and completely faithful and true.  I have been promised He will be with me all the way and that His rod and His staff will comfort me.

I will fear no evil because of Him.          

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Great Gifts

I have received some great gifts in my life.

I remember one Christmas as a young child when my most wanted present didn't appear under the tree.  I don't remember being all that disappointed since there was an abundance of other gifts.  After all the presents were opened and the stockings emptied, one present was left unclaimed.

I asked my mother about it and she answered casually, "Oh, I think that's for you."  As I tore off the paper I found the Easy Bake Oven I had been wanting.

Then there was the birthday I received my engagement ring.  The next year, on the anniversary of our engagement, I received a "present" in the mail from the Alabama Board of Nursing.  I had passed my state board examinations and was now qualified to call myself a Registered Nurse.  A great present indeed.

I could never mention gifts without speaking of my sweet little beagle, Sparrow.  Given to me seven years ago as a birthday gift, she is a dear companion and friend.  I can't imagine what we did without her.

The greatest earthly gift I have ever received was provided for me by my mother-in-law 57 years ago today, when she gave birth to her son.  She raised him up to be a fine, considerate, thoughtful young man whom the Lord had the grace and mercy to bring into my life thirty seven years ago.

There is no doubt that my husband has been the greatest gift I have ever received in this life.  He is my best friend, my pastor, my teacher, the love of my life, the melody to my harmony, even my chauffeur.

He is the perfect compliment to my personality.  He is the leaves on the tree, swinging in the wind and I am the roots buried in the earth.  Together we make quite a tree.

Happy Birthday to the most wonderful person I have ever met. . .my husband.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Be Still

How often are you still?  I mean really still, no television, no music, no internet, no nothing.

Yesterday I was waiting in the car and the radio was off, my phone was off, there was nothing but silence.  I began thinking of how rare an occurrence that is these days.  Even if it is quiet around me, my phone is my instant connection to the world.

In that stillness, all other sounds became suddenly loud.  I could hear sounds I had not listened to in quite a while.  In listening to those sounds, I became aware of other, not audible, "sounds."

My thoughts, it seemed,  became very loud.  I could think of things without distraction or interruption.  I could not escape my own self in that moment.  There was Another in the stillness I could not escape.  I realized the quiet caused me to more easily think upon God, to contemplate Him.  

Let us all take time to still ourselves, to reflect upon our God and to know Him in ways we cannot know in the noise and movement of our usual day.

"Be still, and know that I am God: 
I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Comfort Them...

Life is funny, isn't it? One moment you are feeling great, full of plans and the next moment you have been kicked down to the point you can't move.  

This happened to me this week.  Tuesday morning I woke up feeling great with several plans to work on several house-related projects  during the next three days.  By Tuesday afternoon my throat was scratchy and my head clogged up.   I suspected it was just irritation from the substance I was using to strip a floor.  As the day continued on, I realized there was more than vapors to my deteriorating condition.

By bedtime my ears and throat were on fire.  Remembering that my last bout with the flu started like this, I waited throughout the night for the onset of body racking chills and fever. But they never came.  What did come was a hideous discharge from my sinuses (I won't do the nurse-thing and give you a clinical description.  The combination of the words "hideous" and "discharge" should suffice.)  Somewhere along the way a tiny -- microscopic even-- organism had entered my nasal passages and settled down for a visit in my sinuses.

I was skeptical when the Nurse Practitioner who examined me told me it would take 24, maybe even 48 hours before I felt better.  Surely this exploding feeling in my head would dissipate with the first dose of antibiotics.  No, she was right.  I spent a painful night trying this (hot-packs) and that (ice-packs) on my head and everything I could think of (Tylenol, decongestants, nasal spray) to try to make the pounding, pressing, throbbing pain go away.  I tried sleeping sitting up (I mastered that skill after my tonsillectomy,)  but I found no relief.

Then I believe the Lord popped some inspiration into my pain-racked head.  How many people must I know of who are also in pain right now?  My mind filled with the people we often pray for in our Sunday Bible Study. . .the young boy facing chemo treatments, the family hurting from the loss of a wife and mother,  the firefighter with the chronic back injury.  My thoughts flew to all those we see each week in our Nursing Home services.  There were so many who are hurting and in pain, and unlike me (who feels better at this writing,) they may have little or no hope of ever feeling any relief.

I don't know about you, but when I am in pain the great temptation is to be totally centered upon my own self.  Or more specifically, upon whatever part is hurting.  But I am reminded that when  our Lord was upon the cross, except to fulfill Scripture, He spoke not of His own pain.  Instead His words were for others, even though the simplest word created even more pain for Him.  He make provision for His mother, and the youngest disciple.  He interceded for those who were nailing the nails into His hands and feet, asking the Father for forgiveness for them.  He proclaimed redemption for the thief who had turned to belief in Him.  His words were for those around Him, not for Himself.

When we are in pain, either of the body or the soul, we do well to turn our thoughts away from ourselves and to others who may benefit so much more from our prayers than we do our self-absorption.  As Christians we are one body, and how great must be the comfort manifested when one member prays for another out of their own pain!

"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."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Just Who Is the Owner?

We certainly seem to be living in troubling times.  It only takes a quick view of the news or a short perusing of the internet to know, as Christians, this is not our world.  So then, the question arises, just who is the owner of the world, the universe?

The words of this old hymn written by Malthie D. Babcock  inspire, encourage and comfort me.

 This Is My Father's World

This is my Father's world,  and to my listening ears 
 all nature sings, and round me rings  the music of the spheres. 
 This is my Father's world: I rest me in the thought 
 of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;  His hand the wonders wrought. 

 This is my Father's world, the birds their carols raise, 
 the morning light, the lily white, declare their Maker's praise. 
 This is my Father's world: He shines in all that's fair; 
 in the rustling grass I hear Him pass; He speaks to me everywhere. 
 This is my Father's world. O let me ne'er forget 
 that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet. 
 This is my Father's world: the battle is not done;
Jesus who died shall be satisfied,
And earth and heaven be one.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


My grandson Jackson is perhaps one of the cutest little boys I have ever known. (Not that I am biased in the least.)  He is impish, serious, athletic and awkward all at the same time.  And he seems to be unchanging.

His little sister and I were looking at pictures of them yesterday and I noticed that while Emma's looks have changed dramatically over the last six years, seven year old Jackson looks exactly like one year old Jackson.  Well, he is of course bigger, and perhaps more snaggly-toothed than his younger version.

Jack, however, is just Jack.  He is always the same -- loving, kind, tender, helpful and sweet.  It is comforting to know that for seven years, he hasn't changed.

There is a greater comfort though, and that is to know that our Lord and our God does not change.  Imagine if He was a capricious sort, one way one day and different the next.  The lack of constancy would make our lives as Christians unbearable.

What a joy to know that even though our earthly world crumbles around us, God is still the same.  He is the One that we can always count upon and the only One, in fact, that we ever need.

"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever."
"For I am the LORD, I change not;"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Forever Changed

I can remember the day, the morning -- the moment -- like it was yesterday.  Thirty one years ago today my son was born.  The events of that morning are etched into my memory with the indelible ink of a mother's love.

I remember his giggling face as a toddler, with that blonde hair like his dad had when he was young.  I remember the tender-hearted little boy.  I remember watching cross-country races and cub scout derby matches.  I remember broken windows, baseball bats and a hockey puck that just happened to hit his little sister's face.

At 17, our son joined the USMC.  Believing it to be the Lord's will, we signed the early entry papers, committing  him to his chosen lot.  In tears, we watched him leave for Parris Island in a van driven by recruiters.  

The boy that left that day never returned.  A man came home in his place.

I love my son and I am immensely proud of him.  But like all mothers, I suppose, I miss the little boy that was.  I see glimpses of him in his son, whom I love dearly as well, but my little boy is gone forever.

Before His earthly incarnation, the Lord Jesus lived in a perfect, harmonious union with God the Father and God the Spirit.  The wonder and glory of that first family can never be known by those of us who wear the mantle of humanity.

When the Lord Jesus came to be born of Mary, He willingly took upon Himself that mantle and has forever been changed.  The Lord Jesus which ascended into heaven after His resurrection was the God/Man Christ Jesus.  He will forever bear the marks of His sacrifice for us and will forever bear that mantle of Man.  He became one of us forever.  The Holy Trinity is still intact, but it is forever different.

The sacrifices my son has known as a Marine are known most clearly only within his own heart.  His family knows somewhat of his sufferings and hardships in his mission to defend the Constitution, but we can never fully know their extent.

As children of our heavenly Father, those who have trusted in Christ Jesus, we can know somewhat of His sacrifice, sufferings and hardships, but we can never fully know the cost of our salvation.  The Father and the Spirit know, however, that all eternity is changed because "He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him," (2 Corinthians 5:21.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Even the Ants!"

Have you ever lost track of something you really wanted to keep up with?  Your car keys, or the television remote perhaps?  At some point in time, each of us has struggled to keep up with something we would really rather not lose.

I thought of this today as I was standing at a graveside service.  The pastor was preaching and I looked to the ground as he spoke.  Then I spied a tiny ant moving among the blades of grass.  He darted in and out of my vision, busy doing whatever it is that ants do.

I recalled a statement by our dear friend Larry the day before.  Larry was speaking of how the Lord keeps track of every one of His creatures every minute of every day. He mentioned the verse, "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father," (Matthew 10:29.) 

Then Larry went on to say, "Even the ants!"

How many ants might there be right now on the face of the earth?  More than I would care to count, that's for sure.  Yet our Heavenly Father knows the location of each one.  He knows where they have been and where they are going.  And He knows this of each one of His creations.

This should give us great assurance and peace.  This is still the Lord's world and He is still in control of it.  We must trust Him to reveal His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus in and through us and the world in which we live.

Psalms 50:10, 11

For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills. I know all the fowls of the mountains: and the wild beasts of the field are Mine.

Lady Macbeth in White

During a high school reading of "Macbeth," I was assigned to read the part of Lady Macbeth.  I was intrigued as she tried to wash out the bloodstains from her hands that only her guilty conscience could see.

Years later, I began to feel her frustration personally.

When I first started as a nurse over three decades ago, the practice of wearing white for nurses was beginning to turn.  Those of use who worked in what is caused "specialty units" were allowed to wear scrubs of different colors.  Nurses who worked on the "floors" were still wearing white.  To designate that we were indeed nurses, and not other hospital personnel, we were required to wear white lab jackets.

I can't tell you how many times I have stood over a sink trying to remove blood stains from my white jacket.  It didn't matter how hard you scrubbed, or how hot the water, there always seemed to be a remnant of that blood stain -- like Lady Macbeth's -- that would not wash out.  

It didn't take long for a nurse much more experience to tell me the secret.  

"There's only one thing that is going to turn that white. . . hydrogen peroxide," was her sage wisdom to me.  

As I dropped the clear liquid onto my jacket, it was miraculous.  The reddish brown stain turned snow white.  You could never even tell my jacket had been soiled.  Since that day I have used hydrogen peroxide to take stains out of many lab jackets, although now, the white jackets have gone by the wayside and our jackets match our scrubs (thankfully a wine color which hides  stains of all sorts very well.)

I have been sure throughout the years to pass along this golden tidbit to other nurses, care techs and physicians in need of a quick clean-up.

The stains of sin are just like those blood stains on my jacket.  We can scrub ourselves into trying to be good enough for heaven.  We can use all sorts of items, rituals and activities to attempt to  wash away our sins, but we will never be totally, completely clean.  There is only one thing that will wash us as "white as snow" and turn us into new creatures "alive unto God."

That one thing, that miracle cure, is the Lord Jesus Christ.  When we enter into a believing relationship with Him by faith, He is the one who washes us and causes us to be a "new creature."  Let us give up our own useless self-efforts to clean ourselves and trust His limitless power to "create in me a new heart."

Isaiah 1:18
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."

John 14:6
 "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me."
Colossians 3:10
"And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him:"

Friday, October 11, 2013


I love old things, things that I know have been read, used or worn by many, many before me.  Last year for my birthday, with that in mind, my husband and I headed for the antique store in search of my present.  We found two beautiful silver, bangle bracelets which were exactly what I wanted.  

Exactly, except I wanted one of them engraved with the reference to my favorite Bible verse:

"This is the LORD's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes" (Psalm 118:23.)

Visiting a few engravers caused me to know that what I wanted wasn't possible, due to the width of my bracelets.  There is another engraving though, that is not limited to anything at all.

"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; " (Isaiah 49:16.)

As much as I would have wanted to wear the bracelet with the Scripture reference on it, how much more wonderful is the thought that I am engraved upon the Lord's hand.  Not just my name, but ME -- all of me, placed in His hand permanently, because His engraving is forever.

How BIG must our Lord's hands be to contain all of us who have trusted Him?  How powerful and mighty must be our Lord.  The Father's hands bear the engraving of us into His hand and the Son's hands bear the wounds of our redemption.  Both can look into their hands and know the great price which was paid for us.  

We are never further away than Their hands.

John 10:28, 29
"And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, 
neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; 
and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Our Walls, His Walls

(Thanks to our dear friend Larry for the inspiration for this post.)

We have gotten to know our plumbers very well since June.  During the summer, failing old pipes necessitated that they refit all the incoming pipes in our house.  Now in the fall, a failing drain has brought these pleasant workers, who are now friends, back to our house. (I wish they would just come for coffee, though.)

When the summer work was being done, it was necessary for them to open up three places in our walls.  Two in the living room and one in our main bathroom.  Opening the walls revealed problems we didn't even know we had, but thankfully repairs were possible and implemented.  While the plumbers did a marvelous job on our pipes, it is not in the scope of their practice to replace the sheetrock.  That was up to us.

When our walls, that which secures and protects us are down, we feel vulnerable.  This is not only true in a physical sense of the walls of our homes, but also the walls of our own person.  We all have things that act as walls to us, things which give us a sense of security, safety and protection.

We need not fear when those walls -of sheet-rock or less tangible substance - are "down," for the Lord told us, "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of My hands; thy walls are continually before Me (Isaiah 49:16.)"

Our "walls," our things which are dear, important and necessary to us, are continually before our Lord.  Nothing can come near us which escapes His notice.  We are so dear to Him that He continually watches over us.  

We need not fear of our safety, either, for it is not made of brick and sheet-rock, of strength of muscle or stoutness of heart.  "The horse is prepared against the day of battle: but safety is of the LORD" (Proverbs 21:31.)"  

He alone is all we need to know safety, peace and joy.

"The LORD is my strength and song, and is become my salvation."
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Expect the Unexpected

In the front of our house is an old cut-off valve for the main water supply.  When it was installed, the plumbers put a large PVC pipe around it to protect it from the elements.  For years it was shielded from view by an extremely large azalea bush.

A few years ago my husband laboriously removed the azalea bush that had become almost
"tree-sized." With the azalea bush gone, the ugly PVC pipe was visible to all who passed by.  To solve this problem I took an green wicker basket, cut a hole in the bottom and placed it over the pipe.  I used the basket to hold decorative items appropriate for each season.

Last fall, I stacked a group of pumpkins in the basket, the bottom-most one sitting directly on top of the PVC pipe.  Those pumpkins stayed pretty for a long time, or so I thought.  When I went to remove them to put Christmas items in the basket, I noticed the one on the pipe had become rotten at the bottom.  As I removed it, seeds spilled all into the pipe.  I put my Christmas balls in the basket and never thought about it again. . .until this fall.

As we were planning our fall flowers for the flower bed in which this pipe and basket now reside, I noticed a green vine actually growing out of the pipe.  One look at the broad, large leaves let us know this was a pumpkin vine growing from the seeds which spilled in the pipe last year.

The vine goes well with the store-bought pumpkins we have placed in our flower bed, but now we
might even have more than just a vine.  You see, yesterday I noticed there is a flower bud on our unexpected pumpkin vine.

Never did we expect to have a pumpkin vine growing in our front flower bed, but certainly we didn't expect it to come out of the ugly PVC pipe.

It is such a wonderful picture of how the Lord works in our lives.  Sometimes we find ugly things in our lives - perhaps wrought from others, or the work of the enemies who seek to destroy us, or even from our own poor choices.  We find things we wish weren't there, but are powerless to remove.  As we trust the Lord about these matters, believing that He has every aspect of our lives in His hand and His heart, we may find that He can bring unexpected surprises from those things we have sought from Him to be removed.

It is an amazing thing to consider that our Lord is so great He can take even the painful, negative things in our lives and turn them to our good.  We can therefore have great confidence in His ability to keep us, protect us, console us, comfort us and to love us with "an everlasting love."

Be joyful and begin to expect the unexpected, for we have a great God.

"Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable."