Friday, October 27, 2023

Absolutely No Idea


Dog on a couch

This morning I was straightening the house. Our sweet beagle, Ellie, was resting on the couch, waiting for our walk.  As I walked past her, I couldn't resist stroking her head and running my fingers across her velvety ears.  I told her, "You have no idea how very much you are loved."

That is true.  She is loved not only by me and my husband but by all of our family.  Our best friends love her, too.  People we pass on the street during our walks ask to pet her.  The ladies at the coffee shop we visit have Ellie's pupcup ready before they make our coffee!  She loves, and she is loved.

But immediately after speaking those words to Ellie, I thought how very true that is of myself.  I have absolutely no idea how much I am loved.  

I know my friends love me; they are effusive in their expression of love. I know Ellie loves me; she follows me around the house, wanting to be in the same room with me. (This may be because she hopes to get a tidbit of food I have, or maybe -if she's really lucky- a sip of my coffee.) I know my family loves me, too; they clearly show that in so many ways. I would have to be blind and deaf not to know my husband loves me.  It is the goal of his life with me to cause me to know that truth.

But that wasn't the thought that came to my mind.  The thought was, "You have absolutely no idea how much the Lord loves you."

It brings tears to my eyes just writing the words.  Our Lord loves us so much that He gave that which was most precious to Him, His dear Son, so we might be redeemed.  He has prepared a life for us beyond this mortal realm so wondrous the Scriptures say of it,

"But as it is written, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,' " 

1 Corinthians 2:9.

If I began to list all the things in my life that are proofs of God's love, I could not finish before I take my last breath.  Yet, there are so many more that I never even knew.  Ways He orchestrated things so that I was in the right place at the right time.  Ways He provided and protected me of which I was unaware.  Choices He led me to make that were to bring untold blessings, such as introducing myself to a handsome young man in Sunday School forty-seven years ago.  Or deciding at the last minute not to major in Journalism but to go into Nursing. Or having the "pick of the liter" and picking the most wonderful beagle puppy of all.

We will have doubts about many things in our lives, but the fact that God loves us more than we will ever know should not be one of them.  As Glen wrote in the lyrics of one of our songs, "Let it rule your hearts and set your spirits free."  God loves us. It is as simple and glorious and complex as that.  All we have to do is believe it.

"Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, 
shall be able to separate us from the love of God
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Romans 8:39

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

"That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; 
that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 
may be able to comprehend with all saints 
what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, 
that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God."

Ephesians 3:17-19

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God
and the communion of the Holy Ghost, 
be with you all. Amen."
2 Corinthians 13:14

Thursday, October 26, 2023

A Bed on Wheels

 Children have a way of finding joy in little, unexpected things. 

Once, I was walking with our youngest grandchildren, then four and six, and they noticed some pretty leaves on the ground. They both picked one up. Then my granddaughter, Evelyn, had the idea to collect leaves to give to her mother as a gift. Her brother joined in, and soon they both had a little brown bag of leaves for their Mom. They were so proud of their gifts and so happy with the little leaves. These little things that most adults would pass by without notice enthralled them. This affected me, and sometimes, when we are out on our walks, I will find things along the way - a pretty flower or an interesting stick- and I’ll think, “I want to keep that to show the grandchildren when they come.”  For children, contentment comes so easily.

Lila in her "bed with wheels"

This is how it was with Lila, the six-year-old daughter of a dear friend, who recently had her tonsils removed.  Prior to the surgery, she told her mother she was excited about being pushed in a “bed on wheels.”  While she was also excited about all the ice cream she could eat, I think she was more excited about the bed.

Would that we would be as contented as little children. But for us, it is a conscious choice of faith. The Scriptures are full of admonitions for us to "be content."

"And having food and raiment let us be therewith content," 1 Tim 6:8.

"Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, 'I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee,' Hebrews 13:5."

If the Lord promises to never leave us - and He has - then we have the very best we can ever have; we have HIM. That is even better than being pushed around in a bed with wheels or eating ice cream to our heart's content. There is nothing more we need in our hearts or our lives.

Or, as I like to say,

Trust in the Lord always, for having Him, we have all.

Thursday, October 12, 2023

Hair in the Brush - Revised

 This post was originally written on September 9, 2008.  We are revising it here today.

Hair in The Brush       

 The other day, after brushing my hair, I noticed how much hair was stuck in my brush.  The verse came to mind, “... the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matthew 10:30)” 

As I looked at the rather substantial amount of hair in the brush I wondered just how many hairs were there.  I couldn’t begin to guess and I certainly didn’t want to take the time or effort to count them.  But of course, the Lord knew the answer at that moment, as He does in every moment.  The number is constantly changing, because I am one of those people who constantly loses hair throughout the day.  I am not sure who leaves more hair on the floor, me or our dog Ellie.

Then I wondered, why does the Lord number the hairs on our heads?  It couldn’t be just for punctilious knowledge. (Okay, I confess, "punctilious" is one of my favorite words, but I hardly ever get to use it, so I had to throw it in there when I could.)  There has to be a reason why He numbers our hairs, after all, as the human body goes, hairs are just about the most inconsequential things we have.  It’s one of the things in our body we can lose and still function well.  

There is an obvious reason why He numbers them and that is because He loves us. 

I love our beagle Ellie and I know all about her body.  I am the one to bathe her, to brush her teeth, and to trim her paws.  I know the size and location of that little lump she has by her right foreleg (the one the vet says is okay, but just keep an eye on it to make sure it isn’t growing.)  Why do I know all that? Because I love her and I take care of her.

But there is something else about God numbering our hairs.  He doesn’t just number the hairs on our heads, He numbers our skin cells, too.  And our cardiac cells, and our nerve cells, our white blood cells …every cell in our bodies.  At this very moment, He knows which cardiac cells are contracting in sync and which are resting.  He knows our blood sugar, our cholesterol, our blood pressure.  He knows all this - and so much more- for every single human alive.  Not only that, but He knows those things for every animal, every insect, every reptile, and every living creature.  He knows the plants, too. He knows every atom in every part of His creation. Why?  Precisely because we are His creation and He keeps that creation upheld His power.  

This is not an objective, scientific, detached knowing.  It is like my knowing of Ellie, only so much greater.  It is an intimate, loving caring knowing.  It is the knowing of a tender Father who knows and cares for His child and seeks the best in that child’s life.  

In every moment, every second, He knows minute changes in our bodies that we will never know. At the same time, He is working in us to do and to will of His good pleasure spiritually.  

He knows the path upon which we walk and the feet with which we walk it.  He knows which steps bring pain and which paths fill us with joy.  Like a little child, who instinctively lifts their little hand up to their parent, may we have the wisdom to know how much we also need to be led and to trust the One who knows us much more than wwe can ever know ourselves.

"Casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you."

I Peter 5:7

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

Friday, October 6, 2023

The Tree I Couldn't See

During a recent walk with Ellie in our neighborhood, my mind wandered as she explored her surroundings with that beagle nose of hers. Suddenly, I came across some small golden flowers on the sidewalk, which I didn't recognize. When I looked to find their source, I could only see the intertwined branches of cedar, pine, and oak trees. It wasn't until we had walked a distance away and I turned back toward home that I saw the tree responsible for producing those lovely blossoms.  When I had looked before, I was just too close to see the tree.

The tree had magnificent green leaves and was decorated with countless small, golden flowers. It was hard to believe that I had never seen this tree before, even though I had lived on this street for over three decades.

The tree reminded me of ourselves in our Christian lives.  The Lord is working in us every minute, every second to conform us "to the image of His Son," whether we know it or not.  

We may not be able to see the fruits of His working in us today, but one day we will.  He will have completed His work and our earthly bodies, which now bear the strains of corruption, shall "put on incorruption" (1 Corinthians 15:54).  All things shall be new, including us.

"But as it is written, 'Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.' " 

1 Corinthians 2:9

When we read that verse I often think of heaven, the beauties, the wonders, the glories we will behold.  All that is true, but there is something so much more.  We can not imagine what the Lord has prepared in us.  IN us.  He is using everything in our lives to conform us to "His dear Son."

"But we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is," (1 John 3:2.)

 I may not know all this verse means, but I understand the phrase "we shall be like Him."  We will have been conformed to His image.  We shall never again know pain, suffering, or weakness.  Our desire, our joy will always be to do that which pleases Him.  As Glen and I have often said, our greatest days are ahead!

Thursday, October 5, 2023

His Way is Perfect, Revisited

 This is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month.  

According to the March of Dimes, 10 -20% of women who know they are pregnant will have a pregnancy loss.   Eighty percent of those will occur before the 12th week of pregnancy.  Yet, it is rarely talked about, even among women. 

 It was 35 years ago on this date we had our miscarriage.

Sometimes it feels odd to me when this date rolls around and only my husband, myself, and my good friend remember the significance.  This was such a monumental day in our lives, and yet it is only commemorated by a small heart and a sad face on my calendar.  Stored away, I have the cards sent to me after my miscarriage.  Occasionally I take them out and look at them.  One might think that after 35 years the pain would have diminished, but even as I type this I have tears in my eyes.

Why don't women talk about having had a miscarriage? I was surprised at how many women I worked with admitted they had miscarried because they had never spoken of it before.  Women who experience any type of pregnancy and/or infant loss need to feel free to speak of their experience.  They need to be supported and given every opportunity to thoroughly heal.

If you know someone experiencing a pregnancy or infant loss, one of the best gifts you can give them is to let them tell their story.  Don't interrupt, and don't try to offer platitudes that sound good, but really don't help at all.  Just listen.  Let them talk as long as they need to.  They will get few opportunities to do so.

I repost this story every couple of years.  Here is our story.

October 5th never passes without me reliving the heartbreak of that day, often without speaking about it to anyone.   

It was my third pregnancy.  I had a positive pregnancy test, but my doctor was out of town for a couple weeks and the woman at the office told me it was okay to wait to see the doctor since I worked every day with OB-GYNs, "in case something happened."  My other pregnancies had gone so well, that I thought the chances of that "something" actually happening were quite remote.

Then one night at work I started bleeding.  Just a little, but enough to be concerning.  I spoke to one of the female residents (who would later become my OB-GYN) and she advised me to go to the office after work and be evaluated.

Glen went with me and we were both quiet on the way.  I kept telling myself it was not serious and everything would be okay.  That was until I looked up at the ultrasound screen.  I had seen enough fetal ultrasounds to know it was definitely NOT going to be okay.

The pregnancy was over.

Driving away from the office, I glanced through my tears at Glen and saw tears running down his face as well.  His heart was broken just as much as mine.  He offered to take me to see my Daddy, who was often a source of comfort for me, but I remember saying, "No, I want to see my Momma."

Once I reached my mother's office, she knew by my face there was a problem.  When I told her, she took me in her arms and hugged me for a long time, and for a moment I felt like a child again.

But I had my own children to care for and I was concerned about how they were going to respond to the news.  But actually, at eight and six, they were more distraught over their pet goldfish, Henry, dying the same day, than the loss of a baby they had never seen. They were sympathetic, though.

One day I was sitting on the couch, and our son Noah came up to me and asked, "Momma, are you sad about the baby?"  That tells you everything to know about his tender heart.

All I have to remind me of that baby, which we were sure would have been a boy, are some congratulatory cards we received, the subsequent cards of condolences, and a picture Noah had drawn of the baby inside of me. And of course,  the pain in our hearts.

But the Scriptures promise of God that He "healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds." (Psalm 147:3.) 

If that pregnancy had continued, we would have loved the child with all our hearts.    He would have been as special to us as Marie and Noah.  But he would have been the last.  We never planned to have more than three and there definitely would not have been a fourth.

Emmie as a toddler

That would mean there would have been no Emmie Rose.  The thought of that brings tears to my life with no Emmie.  

Born three years after our miscarriage, Emmie was a joy to all four of us.  

Her siblings were incredibly involved during the pregnancy and adored their baby sister after she arrived.  Noah was so enthralled with her on the day of her birth, that he refused to leave the room.  Even food could not tempt him away.  He was going to stay with his baby sister.

Emmie did not replace our other baby, but his loss made us appreciate her even more.  In bringing Emmie into our lives, the Lord did a marvelous work of redemption, restoration, and healing.

We often don't understand how God works in our lives, how or why He allows some things to happen and other things to not happen.  I suspect there are things we will never fully understand.  But there is one thing we can know for sure, "as for God, His way is perfect." (Psalm 18:30.)  I could have never predicted the pain and misery of October 5, 1988, would be followed with such joy on July 26, 1991, but it was.  

"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."

Romans 8:28

All Things Work Together for Good
words and music by Glen Davis

All things work together for good,
in the hearts and lives of those who love the Lord.
The pleasures and the pains,
the sunlight and the rains,
All things work together for good,
all things work together for good.

An unseen Hand weaves all the threads,
a heart of grace works for our best.
To make us like His Son,
He leaves nothing undone,
All things work together for good,
all things work together for good.

For good, for good.
All things work together for good.