Seven Simple Words

My mom passed away 6 months ago today. I miss her every day. There are traces and reminders of her everywhere in my world. Why wouldn’t there be? She was an integral part of my life for over 65 years.

So many things speak to me of my mom – of her gentle and quiet ways, of her love for God and her family and friends, of her appreciation for life and all its beauty. I smell lilacs in the spring and I think of mom. I see a chocolate birthday cake and I think of mom. I hear a good joke and I think of mom. I could go on and on …

Recently I finished reading through my mom’s diaries. Beginning when she was 14 years old, in 1936, she wrote faithfully almost every day. Later on, in her 90’s, as dementia, the death of my dad, and her move from the family home began to take their toll, her writing became more sporadic. Then gradually it came to an end. Throughout the volumes of her recorded life mom would often begin a new year by dedicating it and her loved ones to the Lord. It was not uncommon for her to give an overview of a Sunday’s message at church, or some volunteer work she’d been involved in. Mom would write consistently of family events and celebrations, milestones and achievements, challenges and griefs to be borne. She would mention someone she was praying for. And often I came across the remark “I am blessed”, or “I am thankful”.

In the last several years of her life – as is common with those dealing with dementia – mom had several go-to statements that she would revert to with amazing regularity. As I would spend time visiting with her there were inevitably three things I could count on her to say:

  1. She would ask about family members, what they were up to, and how they were doing. Then she would ask “Are they happy?”
  2. She loved to quote an old war song from years ago called “Carry On”. The refrain concluded with the words “Carry On, Carry On, Carry On”.
  3. In saying goodbye after a visit together, mom would invariably include the admonition to “Be Good”.

I can still hear mom’s loving, gentle voice encouraging us all to be happy, to carry on, and to be good.

This past week, in reflecting on these words from my mom, I began to sense a deeper meaning behind the oft-used phrases she spoke regularly into my life. People with dementia talk most often, and repeatedly, about those things that are deeply important to them. So I began to think again about my mom, her life, and what she held most dear.

Mom was a Bible believing Christian whose strong faith was an every day, down-to-earth affair. Because of who she was at her core, I’m convinced she was getting at something very specific and beyond the obvious when she asked if those close to her were “happy”. Whether consciously or not, in her last several years, as she herself became more mentally and physically incapacitated, I believe mom wanted to share a message with us. She had found the secret of true and lasting happiness. Psalm 144:15 says “Happy are the people whose God is the Lord.” Too often we spend our lives looking for happiness in all the wrong places or ways. The answer to our yearning for true happiness (some call it joy) is very simple – God. Mom knew this beyond a shadow of a doubt, and her desire was for her loved ones to know this too.

“Carry On” was a way mom encouraged herself, and her family, to not give up in challenging times. She would sing the refrain (and it delighted her when we would join in) in a rousing way intended to inspire, give hope, and raise us above whatever burden might be weighing us down. I believe mom meant it as a way of affirming the truth of Galatians 6:9 — “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” We can carry on only because of Christ in us. He enables us and He rewards us when we choose to keep going, in His strength, through the tough stuff of life. This way of living gives us an imperishable testimony and legacy to pass on. My mom gave me a rich inheritance in so many ways. I want to “carry on” so that I too can have such a blessing to leave behind.

And then mom would tell us to “be good”. It was one of the last things she ever said to me. I believe now that she meant so much more than just not getting into trouble. It went beyond “behave yourself”. It was more than an instruction to be kind, be responsible, be dependable, be helpful — although I’m sure it included all those things. I think mom was pointing us to something more fundamental. She was encouraging us to be like Jesus. The Bible teaches that no one is good except God alone (Luke 18:19). King David wrote that “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 14:3). I think telling us to be good was yet another way mom used to point her loved ones to the Lord. Apart from God, no one can ultimately be, or do, good. But when we submit our lives and our wills to Him, all things become possible. So when I live in a way that allows Christ to dwell in and through me, I can be good because He is good. My mom was a wise woman who knew where true goodness was found.

It’s been 6 long months since I last heard my mom’s voice. But this past week I have been hearing it again – in a deeper, more profound, and sweeter way. It’s been a blessing to perceive in a new way the meaning of those seven simple words repeated often by my mom: Are you happy? Carry on. Be good. They are priceless messages from mom’s heart to mine in this time when I miss her so very much.

Thanks Mom! I love you!

<><

Share
Posted in Choices, Communication, Death, Decision, Family, Hope, Love, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

What difference does it make?

If you know me at all you know that I am a Christian. I am a believer in Jesus Christ and I try to live my life in a way that pleases Him. Every day I fall woefully short – I’m no saint, that’s for sure. I know what I’m not. I also know what I am.

It would be an understatement to say that life throws lots of crap at us. I’m 64 years old – I’ve been through my share – more than some, less than others. But crap nonetheless. I don’t need to tell you that there are plenty of walking wounded on this earth. News reports scream of accidents, failed marriages, financial disasters, drunk drivers and terrorist attacks. Poverty, chronic illness, depression, suicide rear their ugly heads with regularity.  And so many people work so hard to maintain the perfect facade when underneath they’re a mess of misery. So many pretend to be happy and others are happy to pretend. Who can you trust? Is anyone safe or sane anymore? My dad used to often ask, “What’s the world coming to?”

Good question. What is the world coming to?

For me, the answer to that question is critical.

The only way I can deal with all the disorder and pain, confusion, anger and conflict in the world today – and it’s escalating as the Bible foretells  – is to remember that this is not all there is. It’s not all there will be. When Jesus returns to establish His kingdom on earth (as it is in heaven) all things will be made new. There will be no more sorrow or crying or pain. These old things will pass away.

This gives me hope in the midst of the terrible trouble around the world today. It enables me to enjoy the glorious beauty of my garden flowers, to savor the anticipation of spending time with a friend, to persistently pray for healing and hope for my daughter-in-law and son-in-law, both of whom have had their daily life shaped by chronic illness.

I can have peace that defies understanding in the midst of present turmoil. I can release financial concerns to the One who provides for all my needs. I can trade my fear at night for faith that there is rest for me because I am loved by the King of the universe.

I have the assurance that I’m not alone … not now, not ever.  Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age”.  Jesus is a man of his word!

Being a Christian doesn’t necessarily mean that my life is any easier than the next person’s. It just means I have an effective way of navigating the crap that life throws my way. I have Someone who lights the path for me, who picks me up when I fall down, who forgives me when I screw up. I have the unshakable assurance that after every Good Friday there is a Resurrection Day.

See, I know without a doubt that the day I gave Jesus control of my life, I was changed. I found an acceptance and security and significance I’d never known before. I discovered who I really am (my identity) and I realized where I’m headed (my destiny).

Contrary to popular belief in our culture today, this life is ultimately not all about me or you. It’s about Him, and the place we do or don’t give Him in our life.

So what difference does it make, being a Christian?

Walking with God means that the best is always yet to come.

That makes all the difference in the world!

 

 

 

 

Share
Posted in Choices, Decision, End Times, Identity, Jesus' coming, Testing/Trials | Leave a comment

Closing the door

We all open and close doors every day: doors to our house or apartment, garage doors, office doors, classroom doors, bathroom doors, bedroom doors, car doors … on and on.

Like everyone, I opened and closed a lot of doors today, but one stands out among them all.

I’m thinking of a specific door that I closed today and never will again – ever. It’s the door to my childhood home. Tomorrow the house that my parents built and lived in for 60 plus years of their married life, will be sold and will pass into the hands of a stranger.

Over the years I’ve chalked up many different memories of closing the door of my parental home:

  • as a kid full of energy running in and out  – being told by my mom time and again to close the door to keep the flies out in the summer, to keep the cold out in the winter
  • being reminded often not to slam the door – to close it gently
  • closing the door many times after saying goodbye to a good friend or visiting family member
  • closing the door as Peter and I set out as newlyweds on our honeymoon – a trip to a coastal village in Newfoundland for a summer internship
  • closing the door the evening of my dad’s death as my siblings and I left with our mom to go to the hospital before dad’s body was taken to the morgue
  • closing the door the morning we moved my mom to a seniors’ residence, knowing she would probably not pass this way again
  • closing the door many times these last 3 years as my siblings and I took away garbage and donations and treasures while cleaning out the house
  • and then today, as I closed the door for the final time – the door of my once full and happy childhood home, each room now an empty shell. Despite my sadness, I could not help but remember a little joke that I’m sure would make my mom laugh: “The shells are here, but the nuts are gone!”  I freely admit that our family was, and continues to be, just a bit nutty. But we love to laugh and have fun. That’s what I remember most.

So a chapter in my family’s life – in my life – is over now.  Closing that door today was bittersweet indeed!  Yes, I’m sad. Endings usually make me sad. But I can also smile in the midst of grief and give thanks for what I had.  I am blessed with  countless treasured memories. And I am grateful for the new season to come.

This fall I’ve been taking a course called “Griefshare” at my church. It’s a small group that focuses on Christian teaching about various aspects of the life journey from grief to joy. There is opportunity for participants to share personal stories of grief, as well as challenges they’ve faced in walking through the grieving season. We encourage each other, share tips and ideas, and we pray. I’ve found it enormously helpful.

One gem I wrote down a couple weeks ago from the Griefshare teaching was the simple reminder that “our sadness is not for eternity, but for this present life.”

To be sure, amidst the many blessings, the hand each of us is dealt in this life will sooner or later contain heartbreak, adversity, injustice and pain. It’s the result of living in a fallen world where sin seeks to rule.

Singer Jeremy Camp has written a moving song, born out of his own personal times of suffering and difficulty. He encourages us to hold onto God’s promises. “There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears. There will be a day when the burdens of this place will be no more. We’ll see Jesus face to face.”

While we’re here on this earth we will hurt because we are human. But while we’re here, we can also take courage and be willing to share the hope we have in Christ.

On this day of “closing the door”, I take heart when I recall a promise Jesus himself made: “… I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.” (Revelation 3:8) It’s the open door of vision and purpose. It’s the open door of a personal and eternal relationship with Jesus.

Promises like this make days like today bearable for me.  I have hope.  I have something wonderful to look forward to.  I have a happy and contented heart.  I have Jesus.

Can you say the same?

 

Share
Posted in Changes, Choices, Decision, End Times, Family, Gratitude, Home, Hope, Testing/Trials, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wedding RSVP

Last weekend Peter and I attended the wedding of a young woman who has a special place in our hearts. Besides being one of our daughter’s best friends, the bride spent a year living with us when she was in grade 10, so there’s some wonderful shared history in our book of memories.

Peter and I received the beautiful invitation in the mail a few months ago. We were honored to be included on the guest list. With eagerness we discussed the date and then promptly sent off our affirmative response. Yes – we would be delighted to attend the wedding ceremony and reception to follow!

The appointed day arrived. Family and friends gathered in the church to watch and wait for the anticipated arrival of the bridegroom and his bride.

Our spirits were deeply touched as the men filed out of the side room, took their places at the front, and then turned to fix their eyes on the big wooden door that would open soon to admit the bridal party.

The organ announced the arrival of the entourage at the back entrance. The procession began, the air filled with expectant and solemn joy.  Our hearts were moved as we witnessed the bride being escorted down the aisle to meet her soon-to-be husband. Dressed in a gorgeous traditional white gown, the bride’s smile radiated unspeakable beauty. With anticipation she joined her beloved before the altar of the cathedral, surrounded by a huge wedding party of 18 attendants plus several children who stole our hearts with their cuteness.

The liturgy that followed led us through prayers and responses, the exchange of vows and rings, and the kiss between bride and groom to seal the sacred covenant. Joyous music and celebration, smiles and photos, and words of greeting and congratulation followed as the crowd spilled out onto the street.

It was a ceremony to remember!

Later that afternoon, Peter and I found our way to the reception location. Upon entering the venue, we found a welcome table on which were laid out place setting cards, each inscribed with a name. Quite a few had already been picked up; we found ours with no trouble. Soon we were enjoying conversation with friends and a delicious 4 course dinner. There followed speeches and toasts, games and hilarity, chatting and catching up with those we hadn’t seen for a number of years. Music and dancing came later and carried on who knows how long into the wee hours of the morning.

It was a delightful day – a day I wouldn’t have wanted to miss.

As we left the banquet hall late that evening, I happened to notice again the welcome table at the entrance. There remained a few name cards that had not been claimed – for people who said they’d come but then for whatever reason had not shown up. It somehow made me feel sad inside.

A most sobering thought came to my mind.

Those people missed out – they responded positively initially, but then unfortunately something kept them away.

And then there were the loves ones who were invited but declined, never intending to come at all.

I realized that if I hadn’t RSVP’d to Saturday’s wedding invitation, my name card would not have been displayed on the welcome table, nor would there have been a place set for me at the dinner table. I would have forfeited a priceless gift and completely missed the joy of our young friend.

As a Christian, I see a powerful analogy here.

Do you know that we have all received a personal invitation to another wedding feast?

It’s the wedding feast of the bridegroom, Jesus, and His bride, the Church (you and me and anyone else who loves Jesus and desires to be included).

Like the wedding last Saturday, this one too requires a response from us: will we attend or not? A decision must be made.

I really hope you decide to be there.  I guarantee it’s going to be the best wedding celebration that heaven or earth has ever seen!

Have you made your RSVP?

 

Share
Posted in Choices, Decision, End Times, Family, Jesus' coming, Love, Marriage | Leave a comment

Forgiveness and a Cup of Coffee

The other day I was a jerk! I didn’t plan to be. I didn’t want to be. But I was. I behaved badly to say the least.

I was in pain, as often seems to be the case when our good old Canadian weather outside gets cold … and colder. My neck hurt, my shoulders were sore, my hips ached, and my knees protested. Being in pain unfortunately lead to me being a pain myself – particularly to my husband. I was not in a good mood. Peter, true to form, rose to the occasion, responding to my tears of self-pity and negativity with mercy. Instead of complaining about my complaining, he was patient, encouraging and forgiving. He not only prayed for me, he served me by cheerfully doing one of my household tasks that I find most difficult and distasteful — vacuuming.

Mercy: not getting something we deserve. I deserved rebuke, correction, and reprimand for my bad attitude. I received the opposite from my dh.

First thing this morning I was given another wonderful gift. I didn’t ask for it. But I willingly received it with much appreciation.

Peter made me coffee – my most favorite Saturday and Sunday morning beverage. It was so delicious, warm and inviting. It relaxed me. It spoke to me of good times, peace and love. It was given freely and happily. It was pure grace to me.

Grace: getting something we don’t deserve. I deserved nothing special from Peter this morning. I should have been making my dh a cup of coffee instead of the other way around.

Mercy and grace. Forgiveness and a cup of coffee. Two gifts – little things that are really big things of enormous importance. They can change a life. They did mine.

In my husband I see a tiny picture of the love that Jesus has for me … and for you.

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). This is mercy and grace at its best and most costly.

Not getting something I deserve (condemnation and death).  Getting something I don’t deserve (redemption and life).

What an amazing gift! What an incredible blessing!

p.s. My husband is an wonderful man. Jesus is even better!

 

 

 

 

Share
Posted in Choices, Gratitude, Hope, Love, Provision, The Father, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Those last few days

11225186_10153354377059055_7470420590283469256_o-111225186_10153354377059055_7470420590283469256_o-111225186_10153354377059055_7470420590283469256_o-1This week I am reliving those last few days before my Dad passed away one year ago.

Last October 20th found my dad in the hospital. He was pretty much bedridden and unable to stand unless assisted by 2 people. His lungs were slowly filling with fluid as his heart toiled to keep beating with the help of a newly inserted pacemaker. He had a cough accompanied by severe pain from a cracked rib as a result of having received CPR a week previous. At times Dad was delusional, at other times clear minded.

During one of his lucid times, after an evening visit accompanied by my mom and my sister, I lingered behind by his bedside after they had left the room. I drew near and looking my dad in the eyes I asked him if he trusted Jesus. “Yes”, he replied. I was able then to assure him that Jesus was with him to help him and look after him. I reminded him that he could talk to Jesus and that he didn’t need to worry about the future.

“I love you”, I told him. (We didn’t say that a lot in our family growing up.)

Dad gazed back at me, his eyes milky from poor eyesight, but seeing me just the same.

“You’re a good girl. I love you too”, he replied.

Those eight little words so touched my heart! They were my dad’s last and most precious gift to me.

I hope I blessed Dad in those few moments we shared alone — I know he blessed me beyond measure and for the rest of my life.

Dad struggled for the next five days. Family members were in frequently to sit by his side.

The night before he died, Peter and I took my mom to the hospital to visit. She tenderly held the hand of her husband of 68 years. We put lip balm on his dry lips and gave him a sip of water. We combed his hair and tried to make him as comfortable as we could. It was a moving and intimate time we shared.

The next afternoon my dad passed away. I’m thankful it was quick and he didn’t suffer. His heart just gave out as he sat on the edge of his hospital bed. The nurse laid him down, and he was gone.

Thus began a year of mourning and remembering. As each milestone approached, it was observed and then left behind as time marched on. An indelible mark was stamped on my mind and heart as I came to terms with the reality that I would not pass this way again with my dad in our midst. As a family we gave thanks for Dad on his birthday (he would have been 95), Christmas, Father’s Day, summer days when he would have been outside working on some project, mom and dad’s anniversary, Thanksgiving, other days when we thought of him “just because” … and now this time when we relive those last few days with us here in this life.

It’s been a long year for me: a year filled with tears of sorrow alongside the laughter of remembering my dad in better days. I am thankful for the man Dad was. He was a man of integrity who worked hard at everything he did. He was a man with faults and foibles like anyone else, but he was a dad who loved his family fiercely and left us with a rich heritage.

Oh yes, we had our differences to be sure. My dad was a perfectionist, and he had definite ideas on how everything should be done. We butted heads about certain decisions, had some arguments, and exchanged words on a few occasions that I’d rather forget.  But as I process my memories of Dad, and as this first year without him comes to an end, there is inexpressible comfort in being able to pour it all out, chaff and grain together. As one author so eloquently wrote, “sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with a breath of kindness blow the rest away.”

It’s what I’d like others to do for me when I’m gone. It’s what I now choose to do for my dad.

I love you, Dad. And I miss you. I think I always will.

Share
Posted in Changes, Choices, Death, Decision, Family, Gratitude, Hope, Love, Testing/Trials | Leave a comment

New Every Morning

morning-glories-20160831-1Morning glories are one of the most beautiful and easiest climbing vines you can grow in your garden or in pots. They are annual plants with slender stems, heart-shaped leaves, and trumpet-shaped flowers in pink, purple-blue, magenta, or white. Their romantic tendrils curl and twist around a pole, string or trellis lending an old-fashioned charm to any sunny spot.

Morning glories prolifically flower from mid-summer through fall. Each blossom unravels into full bloom in the early morning and usually begins to fade and wilt after a few hours.

As many of you can surely tell from my numerous photos on facebook of this amazing plant, I adore my morning glories.

I love the shades of color, the abundant greenery, their daily climb to new heights.

I love the spiritual truths they remind me of each morning when I go out to my backyard bright and early to count the fresh newly-born blossoms. I was greeted today with over 50 new blooms! I continually marvel at how delicate and astonishingly gorgeous they are. I ponder the brevity of each bloom’s life – here today and gone tomorrow.

Two truths from the Bible come to mind as I contemplate my back-yard beauties.

The first one is this:  “The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

This earthly life, like the morning glory bloom, is brief and comes to an end all too soon. In this fallen world all of us are subject to eventual decay and death. Like the flowers, we flourish for a time, then wither and fall. This outlook would be bleak indeed if not for the hope that there is something – greater and stronger than death – that stands forever: the word of our God.

God’s word brings hope for the future. This is the second eternal truth.

The Bible declares: “ The Lord’s loyal kindness never ceases; his compassions never end. They are fresh every morning; your faithfulness is abundant!” (Lamentations 3:22-23)

No matter what hand life deals, no matter what storms may come, the Lord’s kindness and goodness are always there. True to His word, He brings me to each new day, with a fresh and precious start. And even when death comes, He will raise me up. That will be a brighter and even more glorious day!

This good news is summed up in the very first Bible verse I learned as a child: “For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.

So I continue to delight in my morning glories and in the picture they are of my Father’s faithful and everlasting love.

Morning glories … and the kindness and compassion of God … they are new every morning. What a blessing!

 

Share
Posted in Changes, Death, Gratitude, Hope, Provision, The Father | Leave a comment

A Walk to Remember

Yesterday I went for a walk with my 17 month old granddaughter, Madison Joy. It was a walk to remember.

Basically, Maddie set the course and I followed – keeping watch. She toddled around observing the big wide world  and experimenting with her place in it. Busy learning and tasting the delightful freedom of life out in the open, every once in awhile she’d check around to make sure I was still with her.

Down the lane she went. In her enthusiasm she got going too fast as children often do. She fell hands first into the gravel. Undaunted, she picked herself up and ran her hands over her pants only then seeking my help with an expectant glance.  I helped her brush her hands together to dust off the grit, then gave her a comforting hug.

That done, she circled around onto the grass and made off for her little ride-in toy car over on the lawn.  The seat was wet with last night’s  rain. Before I could stop her, Maddie sat down and got her bottom wet. Under loud protests from her I quickly lifted her squirming body from the car to dump the water and dry the seat. Then she got back in and had her fun.

Done with that, we ventured to the sand box for a few moments of exploration . She examined the slide, pushed the swing, and pulled on some daisies that were growing near the edge. Stepping over the wooden border, Maddie again took a tumble, this time with a somewhat softer landing. She didn’t need any help this time.

Up and off again, Maddie made her way around the house. After climbing the steps to the back deck, she noticed that her little chair had been blown over by the wind . With a sense for the proper way of things, she righted the chair and proceeded without hesitation to the other side of the deck. Semi-capable of walking down the steps on her own, she wisely realized her own limitation. She turned to me with an outstretched little arm imploring me to assist her. Hand in hand we navigated the steps to the level ground below.

Onward then to her daddy’s vegetable garden which she admired and chattered about with pointed finger and delighted face.

Navigating the bumpy hill around the septic system would have been a challenge to Maddie, so I gently redirected her around the hollows and rocks that would have been her downfall.

Rounding the side of the house into the hot sun again I suggested that it was time to go inside.  Maddie obediently headed for the front door.

The front steps being cement, wet with puddles, and hard on tender knees, I scooped Maddie up from behind and landed her just outside the front door. In we went, tired but happy after our outdoor adventure.

As we cuddled on the living room couch together, Maddie Joy leaned over in my face and planted her first voluntary toddler kiss for Grandma right on my mouth. My heart melted.  I love this sweet kid! I would do anything for her!

How like the Lord to give me such a wonderful gift: a parable of what He does for me every day on my walk through this life. He is my Father –my Daddy who never leaves me unattended. He’s always at hand to pick me up when I fall. He dusts off my bruised hands and encourages me to keep going. Vigilant, protective, He lets me learn by doing – succeeding, failing, not giving up. He is faithful to grasp my hand when I seek His help. Delighting in my delights, redirecting my steps when I need guidance, calling me to obey, My Father lifts me up in His embrace to bring me into His house. He draws me into rest and melts my heart with His tender, affectionate love. He is a good good Father whose own heart melts when I respond. He loves me! He would do anything for me!

Yesterday I was so blessed by my precious granddaughter.

Yesterday I was doubly blessed by my wonderful heavenly Father.

It was indeed a walk to remember.

 

 

 

Share
Posted in Family, Gratitude, Identity, Love, Provision, Testing/Trials, The Father, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Betty lost her clothes

Betty lost her clothes the other day. Betty often loses her clothes. At the pool where we both attend Aquafit classes, it’s not unusual to see Betty wandering around checking the lockers in the change room because she’s forgotten where she left her things.

You see, Betty has problems with her short term memory. She has dementia.

People are pretty good about helping Betty out. We chat with her, reassure her, ask her questions and aid her in finding her lost possessions. Then all is well and Betty is off on the right track until the next time she forgets.

Betty got me thinking.

In some ways I am like her. I forget things too. As a Christian I sometimes suffer from spiritual dementia. I lose my way, I forget to put on my spiritual clothes. At times I can’t even find them.

What are these spiritual clothes?

There’s quite a wardrobe:

  • garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness (Isaiah 61)
  • a gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3)
  • a compassionate heart, kindness, humility, meekness and patience (Colossians 3)
  • garments of praise (Isaiah 61)
  • the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the belt of truth, shoes of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6)
  • Jesus Christ himself (Romans 13)

When I am swimming through the deep and troubled waters of life – when the wind and waves strip me naked or leave my clothes in tatters – I need help. I need to be reminded that it’s in God that I find all I need.  His Word is the anchor that keeps me from wandering too far. Prayer helps to re-establish my bearings and corrects my direction. It’s from the community of other believers that I receive comfort, reassurance and assistance.

That’s how I find my clothes again … just like Betty.

Yes, Betty lost her clothes.

Betty taught me a memorable lesson.

I’m so thankful for Betty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share
Posted in Clothing, Gratitude, Hope, Identity, Provision | 1 Comment

O Christmas Tree

I love my Christmas tree!

I love it because when I look at it I see many of the people I love.

I see my faithful husband, Peter, when I lift my eyes to the felt-on-cardboard yellow star so carefully stitched for the top of our very first Christmas tree as a married couple. Oh the stories it could tell of Christmases celebrated in our home over the years.

I see my mother-in-law when I look at the delicate blown-out and elaborately painted eggs hung by invisible thread.

I see my father-in-law when my eye catches a glimpse of the gold painted walnut shells dangling from red yarn.

I see our son’s surrogate grandmother reflected in the tiny knitted red and white Christmas stockings that adorned her gifts of handmade little-boy toques and mittens so many years ago.

I see a dear church family who welcomed Peter and me into their home on our very first Christmas away from our own loved ones. On my tree is the tiny white elephant that popped out of my Christmas cracker at their dinner table.

I see my giggling granddaughters in a creatively decorated foam shape with sprinkles and glitter and childish printing.

(In my mind’s eye I recall decorations made by my own children long ago.  These gems have been passed along for them to enjoy and remember on their own Christmas trees.)

There is so much more: crocheted snowflakes, little straw angels, spray painted pine cones, tiny red bows, miniature jingle bells – each with a tale to tell.

I see so much blessing, a multitude of lives and relationships, memories of days gone by – all adorning my Christmas tree. It’s a gift from God and truly, to me at least, a beauty to behold!

And underneath the decorations, supporting it all, stands an evergreen tree wrapped in lights.

The lighted tree is a picture of Jesus – the tree of Life and the Light of the world – a symbol of redemption and hope in a dark world.  There is no greater Christmas gift. My soul is humbled and grateful.

Many of us are familiar with the carol “O Christmas Tree”.  However, I think that the final verse is not well known or often sung.

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee!
Thou bidst us true and faithful be,
And trust in God unchangingly.
O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree!
How richly God has decked thee! (traditional German Carol – author unknown).

Yes, I love my Christmas tree because every day of this wondrous season it reminds me of precious family members and friends.  It reminds me of the One, Emmanuel, who came to be with us and die for us that we might have eternal life in Him.

O Christmas Tree! How richly God has decked thee!

Have a good look at your own Christmas tree this year. What do you see?

 

 

 

Share
Posted in Family, Gratitude, Home, Hope, Jesus' coming, Love | Leave a comment