Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas

Many of you know that this has been a year of much joy and celebration in our family over the birth of our first grandchild. That has been our big blessing this year and it continues to be. Babies are such a delight, and of course most of the last twelve months have been filled with first the anticipation of, and then the arrival of, this precious gift from our heavenly Father.

But what words can I find to express my thankfulness for the best gift of all, which was given so many years ago? The baby that came then came into circumstances which were much humbler than that of our granddaughter and of most other babies born in this country. During these days of holiday excitement and much spending, let’s reflect on that child who came. Let’s remember who He was, God in the flesh. Let’s think about the lowly manger and the stable and His willingness to become a helpless little human being. Let’s not forget that He was a King and was altogether holy, but yet came to us in the very way that He did and for the very purpose that He did. Every day, let’s try to never lose sight of the fact that this little infant grew up and accomplished what He did with His life and in His death. Then, all of you who know Him, rejoice and celebrate with me!

Best wishes for the season to all!!!

Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her Baby
In a manger for his bed:
Mary was that mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

He came down to earth from heaven
Who is God and Lord of all,
And his shelter was a stable,
And his cradle was a stall:
With the poor, and mean, and lowly,
Lived on earth our Saviour Holy.

~Cecil Frances Alexander, 1848

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The Threads of His Weaving

Just stopping by quickly, here. Once again, I know several people going through difficult times and they are on my heart. Streams in the Desert is one of the best devotionals to read in the midst of trials, and I thought I would post today's poem for anybody who may be struggling with life right now. But it's a good reminder for us all:

The shuttles of His purpose move
To carry out His own design;
Seek not too soon to disapprove
His work, nor yet assign
Dark motives, when, with silent tread,
You view some sombre fold;
For lo, within each darker thread
There twines a thread of gold.

Spin cheerfully,
Not tearfully,
He knows the way you plod;
Spin carefully,
Spin prayerfully,
But leave the thread with God.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Thanks Joni

His lord said to him, “Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things…” Matthew 25:21

I don’t know if any of you have read Joni Eareckson Tada’s book of devotional readings entitled More Precious Than Silver, but if not, I would wholeheartedly recommend it. I gave this book as a Christmas gift to my daughter a few years ago and earlier this year I borrowed it back. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it off and on since then.

Anyway, the December 6th entry really hit home today. It was entitled “Faithfulness” and so much truth is packed into it. I can only go into a little here, but Joni was speaking about those godly folks (and we all know of some) who serve the Lord with little reward on this side of heaven. Pastors of small congregations, missionaries in jungle villages, elderly saints in nursing homes, and teenagers who maintain their integrity and purity are all given as examples in this sweet little writing.

We all know folks like these, who quietly do their service for Christ, with very little recognition or “success.” But get this: As Joni says, “Success isn’t the key. Faithfulness is.” I’m sure glad to be reminded of that, aren’t you? Keep on laboring friends! Someday we’ll hear that “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Did you hear me, weary mothers? Did you hear that Sunday school teachers? How about you who are tenderly and kindly caring for an aging parent, with little help or relief? How about those of you caring for a sick or handicapped child? And the many grandmoms who are consistently and tirelessly praying for your children and grandchildren? What a reminder! Someday, we’ll hear that “well done.” Keep pressing on!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Baby Update

Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Psalm 106:1

Isn’t it amazing how quickly babies change and grow? This time, it had been eight days without seeing Selena (a long time) and she seems like such a big girl now. Well, like a big girl baby. We’ve been noticing this for a while, but especially so yesterday. She’s giving huge smiles, does her own version of “talking”, which she does a LOT, loves to play with her hands and feet, and all of the other neat things that “older” babies do. So our newborn is gone.

I’m so thankful to see her growing, even though something makes me want to grab the reins so that it doesn’t happen too fast. The older she gets, though, the better she can learn about God, so that’s good. And I’m happy to see and hear that she’s already being taught about Him.

And guess what? Not too long ago, we were surprised to find out that Selena and her parents are moving to a new house, which is quite a big thing for them. But that’s not the best part for PopPop and Nanna and Auntie Nee. The nicest part of this surprising news was that they’ll be closer to us. Actually, the distance has been cut just about in half! So with God blessing my hubby and me in these later years with a granddaughter, He is even bringing her to a location that is a good bit easier for us to get to. And it will be easier for her to come see us now.

Our Lord has been so kind these past several months, and I’m rejoicing in his goodness to His undeserving children.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

Well, it’s Thanksgiving Day. Today, I complete my list of blessings. Of course, you know that I would save the best for last. If I had a calculator and would start adding them up, I could name so many more than I have on this list. My home, my health throughout the years, my dog Frodo, certain relatives, all of God’s provisions of food and clothing, and other material possessions, are all things I’m thankful for.

The other day I looked up the word “blessing” in dictionaries in our home. Today I looked it up on (After all, I’m a modern day grandma.) There were six results, and the second and third meanings are the ones that apply here. The second meaning is “a special favor, mercy, or benefit” and the third is “a favor or gift bestowed by God, thereby bringing happiness.” Nothing fits these descriptions as marvelously and wonderfully as my salvation. Of all that I could stand up and proclaim as blessings from God, none can compare to what He has given me in Christ. My salvation is a special favor, mercy and benefit. It is a gift bestowed by God, which has brought me happiness beyond measure.

Those of you who know and love the Savior, stand up with me today, Thanksgiving Day, and praise the Lord for this, our best blessing. The others that we have will fade away, or die, or disappoint, or leave. Jesus never will do any of these. He’ll never leave us or forsake us—He’s promised us this and He keeps all His promises. So as thankful as I am for the six blessings which I have outlined during these past seven days, I am not resting on them for eternity. I’m only resting on Jesus.

Thank you Lord, for my salvation.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Fairest Lord Jesus,
Ruler of all nature,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Thee will I cherish,
Thee will I honor,
Thou my soul’s glory, joy, and crown.
~Munster Gesangbuch, 1677; tr.1850, 1873

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Blessing Number Six

Lately, I’ve been hearing and reading quite a bit about what it’s like to follow Christ in other countries. I’ve been viewing various PowerPoint presentations and looking at many magazine pictures of Christian people in other lands. Many of these people live under conditions that we can’t even imagine. Some have mud and dirt on them, or bugs, or even worse, they sometimes have marks of dried blood. And what always humbles me is that many of them are smiling.

It often makes me ashamed when I think about how much I take for granted the freedoms and opportunities we have here in this country. These freedoms and opportunities don’t only extend to us as Christians, but also to individuals in a general sense.

I touched on all this in a recent post which was called “It’s My Privilege.” God has been kind enough to allow me to be born here in America. I have a lot of concerns about this nation and I must admit it worries me to see some of the things that are happening, but I still wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. As I discussed in the other post, I’m still proud of my country and I’m grateful that I have the privilege of praying for it.

Thank you Lord, for my country.

My country, ‘tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing:
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountain side
Let freedom ring!

~Samuel Francis Smith, 1832

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blessing Number Five

Do you have any friends? I do. Just a few, of course, because you seldom have but so many. Now, I’m not talking about people whom you hang out with and have fun with, though certainly this is something that is often true of friends. I’m talking about much more than that.

I have someone who called me once when she heard I had a potentially serious medical problem and she cried over the phone because it hurt her that I had to go through that trial. Those tears came from a heart of love. Through the years, she has been consistent in her readiness to step in and help if she thinks I have any need of any sort whatsoever. Quietly, in the background. That’s one friend.

I have another person who lets me pour out my heart to her whenever I have something tearing me up inside, even if it’s something dumb. She recently called me at ten in the evening to tell me she loves me and that she’s glad for my friendship. That was all she wanted that night. She’s young enough to be my daughter, by the way, but we usually forget about that. That’s another friend.

There’s this other lady who is sure to direct my thoughts to the Lord whenever we talk. But if she sees me step over the line into sinful attitudes or actions, she has been faithful enough to wound me and point it out. That’s one more friend.

There are a couple of more sweet folks who are dear and real, but I don’t want to make this too long.

When my mom was here in our home, dying from cancer, it was the darkest time in my life thus far. The first friend mentioned above came to sit in the room by my mom’s side from time to time. The second friend above sewed beautiful warm nightgowns for my mom to wear while lying in her hospital bed at our house. The third friend mentioned came weekly with her husband to have prayer and sing hymns with my mother. They were all lights in my darkness.

These three people and I have rejoiced together, wept together and prayed together. Time has only strengthened the bond, even if we go weeks without talking. Our ages haven’t mattered, nor has our skin colors. God has given these people to me to make my life richer. Do you have any people like this in your life? I hope so, for your sake.

Thank you Lord, for my friends.

How beautiful the sight
Of brethren who agree
In friendship to unite
And bonds of charity;
“Tis like the precious ointment shed
O’er all his robes, from Aaron’s head.
~James Montgomery, 1771-1854

Monday, November 20, 2006

Blessing Number Four

In our day, I am sad to say, the Church of Christ is characterized by many factions, disagreements, hurt feelings, accusations, fallen leaders, anger, unbiblical practices, bad doctrines, worldliness, and the list goes on and on. In fact, I think it’s safe to say that the Church is by and large in a sad state.

However, scattered about the world are some large, but more often small, pockets of believers who gather together as local congregations seeking to honor their Savior and remain faithful to His Word. They meet together under many external conditions, some of which are hostile, and the worshippers come in a variety of colors and speech. I belong to one of these congregations.

My husband and I have been a part of our local assembly of believers for more than twenty years. It’s one of the small pockets. It’s a group bearing a few scars, which is quite common nowadays. It’s been through some waters, but has emerged without drowning. We’ve walked through a huge fire and some small brush fires, and while scorched a little, have not burned up. We have love one for another, have peace within our walls, have a love for the Word of God and have a yearning to see more souls in God’s kingdom. We have a couple of pastors who are trying to lead us in righteousness, and while I’m sure not perfectly, they are doing their best. I do believe they love us and are trying to keep watch over our souls. The Holy Scriptures and its doctrines are held in high regard. What more could I ask for in a church?

Yesterday, we heard a report from a fellow pastor who has a ministry in Zimbabwe, Africa. One of our young people recently came back from helping this pastor with that work. The people in our congregation are excited about assisting this pastor and his wife in any way we can. As small as we are, that’s the way our church is—always ready to help where there’s a need. I’m just glad to be a part.

Thank you Lord, for my church.

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love:
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like to that above.

~John Fawcett, 1782

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blessing Number Three

If you know me, there’s little doubt that you’ve already figured out the third item on my list of blessings. Of course, it’s Selena. What more can I say than what I’ve already said time and again? The birth of our first grandchild occurred on Labor Day and she went home with her daddy and mommy two days later. My entry for that day seems to be appropriate for now and I ask that you go and read it, because it’s still an expression of my heart today. (Home Sweet Home)

Now, two and a half months later, we know her even better and love her even more. I’m sure that our love will continue to grow if, by God’s grace, He gives us more time with her. We consider her to be a gift beyond measure, and I’m praying that early she’ll come to know and love the Good Shepherd.

Thank you Lord, for my granddaughter.

Gracious Saviour, gentle Shepherd,
Our little ones are dear to thee;
Gathered with thine arms and carried
In thy bosom may they be
Sweetly, gently, safely tended,
From all want and danger free.

~Jane E. Lesson, 1842

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Blessing Number Two

One of the dictionaries in our home has a definition for the word “blessing” which I particularly like. In the second sense of the word, it reads: “A means of happiness or welfare; a beneficent gift.” This meaning of the word definitely describes what our children are to us.

We have two chosen daughters. That’s another way of saying that they came to us via adoption. They were “born in our hearts” rather than by physical birth. And to put it in a way that I read on another blog which I frequent, we are linked to them “by law and by love.” I can truly say with gratefulness that they have each been a means of happiness and welfare for both my husband and me. They have brought us much joy and have increased our sense of well-being, especially as our feet have landed on that rich golden soil of our senior years. And one of them is still at home and a teenager!

And I can add that the “beneficent gift” abounded even more two years ago when our older daughter married a young man who has so far proven to be a loving and devoted husband, seeking to lead his family in a way that honors God. So our two children have grown to three!

Where there is beneficence there is a benefactor. Our children are a good gift that we enjoy from the almighty Benefactor, the giver of all that is right and good in this sin corrupted world. It’s not that we deserve it any more than anyone else. But He gave it to us anyway.

Thank you Lord, for my children.

Now thank we all our God
With heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done,
In whom His world rejoices;
Who, from our mothers’ arms,
Hath blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love,
And still is ours today.
~ Martin Rinkart, 1636

Friday, November 17, 2006

Blessing Number One

The Lord has been so gracious to my dear husband and me. In June of this year, we celebrated our thirty-fifth wedding anniversary. I couldn’t have had a more faithful and dependable man for these years, and in this day and age, from what I keep hearing, this is no small thing.

If it had been left to us, we would have failed long ago. But, thankfully, it is God’s sustaining love that keeps us and has kept us and caused us to learn the lesson that must be learned by all married folks: It’s not our love for each other that keeps our marriage intact, but our commitment to it and to Christ that sustains our love.

Thank you Lord, for my husband.

O perfect Life, be thou their full assurance,
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope, and quiet, brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.
~~Dorothy F. Gurney, 1883

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Count Your Blessings

Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation! Psalm 68:19

Well, it’s exactly one week before Thanksgiving—it really did sneak up on us! At least it did on me. If I had to pick one single holiday as a favorite, I think it would have to be this one.

What a perfect time to reflect on the goodness of our God. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. To honor the upcoming holiday, I thought I’d make a post a day of seven things for which I am thankful. Most of us, myself included, certainly have no trouble getting discouraged or concerned about this or that. So, instead, for the next week, let’s just try to praise the Lord together, shall we? If anyone wants to add a thanks in the comments section, feel free. I’m sure everyone who frequents this place knows one thing in particular which (who) will be on my list.

Jesus truly is the fountain of blessings in our lives!

Come, thou Fount of ev’ry blessing,
Tune my heart to sing thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above;
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of God’s unchanging love.

- Robert Robinson, 1758

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It's My Privilege

Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.1 Timothy 2:1-2

Yesterday, I exercised one of the greatest privileges that I own as a human being—the right to vote. Today, we all got the results and as is always the case, there were a few of those results that I was pleased to hear about and many that I was not pleased with. I’m not here to talk about politics today, but to speak as an American.

Even amidst much disappointment, I’m still proud of my country. In our homeschool eighth grade, my daughter has a Civics Activity Book that she’s working through. It’s another reminder to me of the government that we have. I am again amazed at the wisdom of some great men who framed it over two hundred years ago. There were no computers then. No airplanes. No telephones, let alone cell phones. No digital cameras. Just great men. Men with some faults and weaknesses and sin, but great men.

So now, two hundred plus years later, there will again be a transfer of power in a major branch of our government, and it will take place without bloodshed. A little bit ago we heard our President speak, not with threatening words, but about liberty and democracy while telling his opposing party that the people of this land expect him and them to “work together.” That’s the way our country is. That’s America.

I may be disappointed about many things, but I’m still proud and thankful to be a citizen of this particular land, even with its shortcomings. And I’ll continue to pray for our leaders, no matter who they are, because the Lord has told me to. Join me won’t you, in praying that our children and grandchildren will still have a great nation to grow up in. Remember, being able to pray this way is another great privilege.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Two Reminders

Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. Psalm 119:73

We had a great time at our church this past weekend. We had what we call our Fall Bible Conference, which included our annual Thanksgiving dinner as well. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and enrichment for most of us and it was especially so for me because Selena and her parents came to join with us. It was another first for her--the first time visiting her grandparent’s church, the one in which her mommy grew up. She met quite a few folks who are dear to her PopPop and Nanna (and to her parents).

There was someone there who I have been wanting her to meet from her beginning days. On Saturday, she met a special little baby girl from our church for the first time. Since this little one is a part of our congregation, I see her quite a bit and know her pretty well and I always tell her about my grandbaby. I always talk to her about her “friend.” You see, she preceded Selena into this world by only three days, so because of that, I figure that they are friends. So it was something of a treat for me to see them “together” off and on during that day, in and out of the nursery.

We’ll see what God does with that friendship thing, but both of them are reminders of our Creator God. They are both fearfully and wonderfully made, and have been reminders of that to many of us in their recent days in the womb and then in their births and now in these early days of their lives.

I’ve been praying for the soul of my granddaughter even before she was born and those prayers will continue. I long to see the day when she becomes a child of God. I’ll be praying that He’ll be giving her understanding, and that she’ll be learning His commandments. And I, and I know many others, will be praying the same thing for her little “friend”.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Smells, Tastes, and Other Things

You have set all the borders of the earth; You have made summer and winter. Psalm 74:17

I thank the Lord for all of the seasons, but autumn is, and has always been, my favorite. Typically, there is a sense in which I “come alive” after summer (my least favorite). I know many people agree with me. Here are some of the things I like best about this time of year:

§ The smell of popcorn
§ Coming into a warm house on a blustery day
§ Taking walks
§ Pumpkin (sweet potato) pie
§ The return of the juncos
§ The death of mosquitoes
§ The color of the leaves
§ Thanksgiving
§ Getting up an hour later (when daylight time ends)
§ Raking leaves (good exercise)
§ The World Series
§ Hot cider
§ The smell of turkey cooking
§ Another chance to voice our displeasure (or support) at the polls
§ Apple cake
§ The freshness of the air (no humidity)
§ This year, the arrival of Selena

If anybody wants to talk about something they’d like to add (or delete) from this list, feel free. Did you notice how many items on this list are related to my stomach? Guess I better watch out or all those lost pounds will return by spring!

A question: Why is it that each of the other seasons has only one title that is used to refer to it? Why is this season called both fall and autumn? Just curious.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Sometime, Somewhere

Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart. Wait, I say, on the Lord! Psalm 27:14

Selena has not learned to patiently wait yet. Like any full-blooded, healthy six week old individual, when her stomach’s empty, she wants to eat and she wants to eat NOW. Nothing can be more pleasant and delightful than a happy and contented baby with a full stomach, but on the other hand…well, you know how it is at the time when they need a meal. They just don’t handle delays well.

My granddaughter has many lessons to learn about delays. They’re the same lessons that all of us have had to learn. Many are just little day by day things, like waiting for dinner when we’re hungry. But delays are often difficult, sometimes downright painful. For some of us, God has seen fit to withhold a desired thing for a long time. Sometimes He’s put us through a season of grief or suffering that is a long time ending. I know a few people who are going through such times right now. Today, I have another gem for them. It’s another one from Streams in the Desert. I just have to post it here; it is so packed with truth.

I hope it’s a blessing to someone who is weak and weary right now. I also hope our little Selena will begin to learn its truths someday, along with all of the other lessons ahead for her. I even think that’s beginning to happen already.

Unanswered yet the prayer your lips have pleaded
In agony of heart these many years?
Does faith begin to fail? Is hope departing?
And think you all in vain those falling tears?
Say not the Father hath not heard your prayer;
You shall have your desire sometime, somewhere.

Unanswered yet? Nay do not say ungranted;
Perhaps your work is not yet wholly done.
The work began when first your prayer was uttered,
And God will finish what He has begun.
If you will keep the incense burning there,
His glory you shall see sometime, somewhere.

Unanswered yet? Faith cannot be unanswered,
Her feet are firmly planted on the Rock;
Amid the wildest storms she stands undaunted,
Nor quails before the loudest thunder shock.
She knows Omnipotence has heard her prayer,
And cries, "It shall be done"--sometime, somewhere.

--Charles D. Tillman, 1894

Thursday, October 12, 2006

They'll Come North Again

It was so nice to see the robins on Tuesday. While I was on my way grocery shopping, they were all over the place in our neighborhood. For a minute I was confused, because our familiar red breasted friends had all been gone for a few weeks, I thought. You know how it is with robins. Around here, people tend to think of a sighting of one in early March as the first sign of spring after the long, hard winter. Then, usually at some point towards the middle to end of September, you realize that they have gone. They come and they go, telling us winter is gone and then in the fall, that winter is coming. Anyway, the ones that were outside a couple of days ago were obviously just a flock passing through from north of us somewhere.

I think the migration of birds is a wonderful thing. It is just another of the wonders of nature that the scientists are not really able to explain. As far as I’m concerned, it is just another proof of the answer to the second question of the children’s catechism. As I’ve said time and time again, I want our grandbaby to someday know these things. What else did God make? is the question asked after she learns that God made her. Well, of course, God made all things. I would like someone, if they could, to offer some other explanation for what happens every spring and fall with the robins, grackles, juncos, and a host of other birds. Who guides them? Where are their maps? Who tells them when it’s time to leave? Where are their calendars? By the way, have you ever watched the goings on at a robin’s nest? I had the privilege of having a ringside seat to just that, right next to my front porch last summer and that totally settled it for me. God was and is the Creator of all things. Someday all of my grandchildren will know it too. I’m sure of that. All they’ll need to do is watch the birds, right?

One more thing. This gives me a good excuse to post another favorite poem from Streams in the Desert. It’s a good one for anyone who happens to read this and is going through trials right now. Each year, we’ll let our robin friends remind us of these truths:

"Oh, every year hath its winter,
And every year hath its rain--
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.

"When new leaves swell in the forest,
And grass springs green on the plain,
And alders' veins turn crimson--
And the birds go north again.

"Oh, every heart hath its sorrow,
And every heart hath its pain--
But a day is always coming
When the birds go north again.

"'Tis the sweetest thing to remember,
If courage be on the wane,
When the cold, dark days are over--
Why, the birds go north again."

Friday, October 06, 2006

A Week of Firsts

Over the meadow and through the woods,
To Grandmother’s house we go!

A special visitor came to our house today, and she was all dressed in pink and white. That’s right, Selena made her first trip to PopPop and Nanna’s house, and I sure do hope that it’s the first such trip of many. While she was here, I walked her all around, with her back to my chest and her eyes wide open, showing her each one of the rooms in the house that her mommy grew up in. I think she liked it. She even got her diaper changed on the bed her mommy once slept in. She also got to lie on, and throw up on, the same homemade baby's mat that her Auntie Nee once laid on (and threw up on). I hope there will be many more times for each of these things.

This whole week was a week of “firsts” for my little granddaughter. She went to church for the first time; completed her first month of life; and exhibited her first real smile—appropriately, to her mommy. God willing, there will be many more times when she will do this or that for the first time. So, I’m thinking again about a certain “first”: the first catechism question that I spoke about back in June in my Yahoo blog, when she was yet in the womb. I’m looking forward to the day when she hears that question and responds with the correct answer. The question is, Who Made You? and the answer is God. It's a very simple answer, I know, but this little short word opens the door to everything else she'll need to know.

There will be a first tooth, first step, and much more, but the first time she answers that question all by herself will be really something! And it will be even better when the day comes that she understands it and believes it!!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Let's Keep Trusting

In recent days and weeks, many of us have been rejoicing over additions to our families. I know that on blogs I frequent and in my writing groups, new babies have been abounding. Among these new arrivals have been a particularly large percentage of new daughters and granddaughters, it seems. And there are still more coming. But today my thoughts keep going over to the Lancaster County Amish community, where there are many who have tragically lost daughters and granddaughters. I’m sure you’ve heard about it. For many of us, these dear folks have been heavy on our hearts and in our prayers. I know for me, this has been so hard to process. I am telling myself, and telling all of us, that we must keep trusting in our God even in such a time as this, when sin and evil rears its ugly head and brings harm to the harmless. And He would have us to grieve along with even those we do not know.

Today, I think I’ll meditate on the following words I found in one of the Streams in the Desert devotions. I think I need to. Maybe you do too.

I do not ask that He must prove

His Word is true to me,
And that before I can believe
He first must let me see.
It is enough for me to know
'Tis true because He says 'tis so;
On His unchanging Word I'll stand
And trust till I can understand.
--E. M. Winter

Friday, September 29, 2006

Now You See Me, Now You Don't

For His eyes are on the ways of man, and He sees all his steps. Job 34:21

My dog Frodo has a thing about squirrels. He either really likes them or he really hates them. I’m pretty sure it’s the latter. In fact, as I heard someone else say about their dog, it seems as if Fro thinks it’s his solemn duty to rid the world of these little bushy tailed critters. Well, he has had absolutely no success at all…yet. A couple of days ago, my husband and younger daughter and I were rather captivated by the sight of our doggy standing poised and still while staring at a squirrel which was no more than six feet away. It was eating away under our hanging feeder near one of the big oaks. Now I really believe that Fro did not think the other animal saw him. We were quite amused as we watched him attempt to creep closer. But, of course, those who live in the wild are no match for the domestic animals under most circumstances. (Except maybe cats.) The wild guy knew perfectly well that our nicely groomed cocker was there. At the first sign of movement, UP the tree it went as if to say, “Ha Ha, you can’t catch me!”

As poor Fro, so often frustrated in this way, sat at the bottom of the tree looking up, you could see a little squirrel head peeking this way and that from the other side of the trunk. “Now you see me, now you don’t,” was its little playful message. Finally, this incident was over and Fro came back into the house to rest until his next try.

I thought it was quite funny that he seemed to be under the impression that the other animal didn’t see him. He was right there in front of it! But Frodo couldn’t see it when it was playing peek-a-boo from the other side of the tree. This brings me once again to my new little granddaughter. I wonder if we’ll ever play peek-a-boo with Selena. We probably will—very soon. What fun for babies! “Now you see me, now you don’t.” It’s always sure to get giggles.

I haven’t talked about the children’s catechism for awhile, but I’m sure the day is coming when she’ll learn the answer to Question 11: Can you see God? The answer to this one is one of my favorites: No, I cannot see God, but He always sees me. That’s one lesson I hope she learns very early. I wonder how it will affect what she does or does not do. It won’t be “now you see me, now you don’t,” but like the answer to the catechism says, He always sees little girls like Selena and big folks like you and me. My question for anyone reading this is, how does this make you feel?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Good Morning

It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
And to sing praises to Your name O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night…
The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree,
He shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon
Those who are planted in the house of the LORD
Shall flourish in the courts of our God,
They shall still bear fruit in old age;
They shall be fresh and flourishing.
Psalm 92:1-2,12-14

Good morning all. I love this psalm. It has always been one of my favorites through the years and now that I’m older (Ahem! and a grandmamma), it has even become more meaningful. For some reason, my thoughts aren’t flowing out of my brain this week and I’ve little to write. Hopefully, soon it will be better.

I just read a little devotional and it mentioned a British preacher and writer named John Stott who it said began each day this way: “Good morning, heavenly Father. Good morning, Lord Jesus. Good morning, Holy Spirit.” After that it’s said that Mr. Stott would go on to worship each member of the Trinity individually. (“Our Daily Bread”, April 2002) Let’s all do the same today and praise our great triune God together!

[Just in case anyone is wondering, Selena is fine.]

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Our Gift to God's Gift

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3

So far, Miss Selena is living the typical life of a newborn. She loves to eat. She loves to sleep. She loves to do that other thing that newborns do so well. God’s factory is abundantly sufficient, so that at her one week appointment she had reached and surpassed her initial birth weight. Thank you, Lord.

Yesterday, we gave her the special gift that we had been waiting to give until the time of her birth. My husband and I gave her the Speakable Gifts photo album that I’ve made for so many other babies. Anyone who is familiar with us at Speakable Gifts knows that a companion cassette of verses and hymns was made to accompany this photo album, and after it was produced in 1998, until about two years ago, this cassette had been our best selling item. It has been a blessing to us that so many people have appreciated its simplicity, and many, many babies and small children have heard the voice of Selena’s mommy, then seventeen, who sang the greatest portion of the hymns and songs. Now she (Selena) will hear it, and it will be her mommy singing to her. Also, she will hear the singing of children who are now big kids and are her friends. And, she will even hear the then five year old voice of her own Auntie Nee.

I hope all of this means something to her at some point in the near future. I guess not for a while, though. Yesterday when I excitedly gave her the gift, she was totally bored with it all. She continued with the same facial expression that’s on her photo here. She even grimaced just a little bit.

I’d like to talk about some of these verses and hymns from time to time in future posts, as I did once with one of the songs, “O Be Careful.” Her Nanna is there too at the beginning of the recording, by the way. My voice will be telling her that we all want to help her learn about God. I trust that she will. One thing I’m sure of, she’ll love listening to her mommy!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Home Sweet Home

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This will be written for the generation to come, That a people yet to be created may praise the LORD. Psalm 102:18.

Hi there all,

Selena and her mom came home today and everyone is well. God has been so good to our family. Throughout the years, He has been the giver of many blessings to my husband and me and this comes close to beating them all. We have been so thankful for our two lovely daughters, and then for our dear son in law and now for this, at long last, a precious grandchild. My book, Bright Gems for His Crown, was initially written in 2001 and when it was redone in 2003 the dedication was written: "This book is dedicated to my grandchildren who have not yet come.", with the above verse being given.

Now that this generation has come to our family, I don't suppose I need to tell you that it's my prayer that this little one, now created, will indeed be a girl and a woman who will at some point in time truly be one who will praise the Lord. Pray for her, please, all of you who know the Lord. Pray that the day will come when she will know Jesus. I am even praying that when she reaches adulthood, she will look back and not remember a day when she did not love Him. Maybe He will grant us that request. Maybe it will take longer, but whatever happens, for as long as we can, her PopPop and Nanna will be there to help. Pray for us please. I know that all of you believing grandparents who happen to read this will know exactly what I mean. And bless all of you too, who are desiring the same thing.

Monday, September 04, 2006

SHE'S HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 2:05 this afternoon, a screaming Selena Anne Smith took leave of her sanctuary of the past 38 weeks, and two days, and has arrived. She calmed immediately upon hearing the familiar sound of her mother's voice and has been that way ever since. We'll see how that holds up in the future. Small and petite like her mother, she weighed in at 6 lbs, 1 oz and measured 19 inches. We are all overwhelmed! Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!

I am now a grandmother!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Special Baby

A little while ago, I got to hold a baby girl just three hours or so after her birth. No, it was not my granddaughter yet. But it was for me something of an honor to hold someone so soon after her sunrise. She is the new daughter of someone from our church and, of course, she is a special gift from God. Her mother was telling us how her new little daughter was very “grumpy” after her arrival. She didn’t seem very happy about coming into our world. She cried and cried so hard and for so long, her mama said. I guess that’s an appropriate response, wouldn’t you say?

Anyway, now I’m really feeling the anticipation about our own little one. This special baby girl is going to have a September 1st birthday. I wonder what Selena’s birthday will be? Soon, soon, soon by God’s mercies.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The Sun Also Rises

The sun also rises, and the sun goes down…Eccl. 1:5
To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die…Eccl. 3:1-2a

It’s Tuesday night and just a little while ago, a mourning dove was in our green feeder. There were several reasons why this was a problem. You may be wondering what was wrong with a bird being in a feeder when, after all, that’s the reason we have bird feeders—to attract birds. Well, first of all, it had been dark for a couple of hours and as anyone knows who runs a feeding station, restaurant hours are between sunrise and sunset. Our patrons show up at the crack of dawn and they begin to leave at dusk, with the cardinals usually being the only latecomers before night actually falls. After that, no birds. So the fact that he was there at that hour was the first problem.

The second problem was that he was not eating, but seemed to be just resting, and he was resting there in the pouring rain. Since I was letting my cocker spaniel dog out (this breed is intense about chasing birds and squirrels), and I didn’t want the poor feathered fellow to have to contend with that, I went out first (in the rain) to encourage the soaking creature to fly off. That was the last problem: He let me get right there next to him and he either didn’t care or was too weak to leave. I gently tapped the edge and he reluctantly fluttered away, barely making it over our fence.

So, what did this all mean? It tells me that another of God’s creatures is about to die. Something is wrong with him and he’s dying. And if he manages to make it back to our feeder during the night, he’ll die there. We’ve had this happen several times before and it always makes me so very sad. I wish I wouldn’t react that way about the death of lowly animals—especially wildlife—but I always do. And it’s always a reminder of that verse I just posted: there is a time to die. It’s a given. Just as the setting of the sun is. And it’s another of the all things that are determined by our Creator.

I won’t post this until the morning and I’ll comment on whether I find him in the place he’d chosen as his final resting place. I really hope not.

Well, after the sunset, the sun always rises. I hope that makes sense. That mourning dove broke into my world of thinking almost nonstop about the other part of the verse. As of today, our grandchild has officially been 37 weeks and three days in her sanctuary. It is getting closer and closer to the time when she is due for her sunrise. Again, need I say that the “when” is another of the all things determined by her Creator? Pray with me please for her safe arrival. Pray for her mommy too. Pray that God might be merciful to us and this new life might bring joy to us all. That mourning dove has no soul, but this baby does. Pray for the reality of another verse in Ecclesiastes that she will remember her Creator in the days of her youth, before the difficult days come. I am surely praying that the Lord will give us this blessing and that He’ll give all of us the blessing of helping her!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Everything Nice

But the fruit of the Spirit is…kindness. Galatians 5:22

A sweet pea in the pod, who is my expected granddaughter, has held off long enough to have had another shower. A few weeks ago, I talked about her first shower when she got so many clothes. This time, her parents got all of the “practical” gifts that they needed and now they’re really ready for her to come! Today, though, I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the shower theme. It was a well thought out and appropriate theme: “Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice—That’s What Little Girls are Made Of.” What a thought! How true I hope this will be of this little girl one day. Everything nice!

When she first gets here, though, she may not be all that nice to those around her. No doubt, she’ll be like all of the rest of us when first making our entrance into this not so wonderful world. After all, she is a daughter of Adam, and you know what that means. It means that she’ll be totally bent on getting her own needs met with no regard whatsoever for anyone else’s. At times, she’ll probably be mean enough to wake her parents out of a blissful sleep just because she wants something to eat. Other times, she’ll probably regurgitate yucky stuff all over whoever may happen to be holding her in a loving embrace and she’ll have no concern at all about what laundry headaches (or cleaning bills) this might cause them. There may even be a time when she’ll scrunch up her face and wail at Aunt So and So who has traveled miles just to meet her. Now how rude is that? She’ll do whatever suits her fancy at any given time and won’t give a hoot who doesn’t like it.

Okay, of course I’m just joking. And all of you know that Nanna can’t wait for it all to start. And then after all, she’ll only be a new infant who doesn’t know any better. But unfortunately, it could stay that way and stick if she doesn’t get help. But I know her parents. And I know they’ll want to see a little girl emerge who by and by will bring reality to that familiar little phrase that once was her shower theme. Everything nice. Some day, with their guidance and God’s help, maybe that will become true of our Selena. “Nice” can mean other things, but I’m thinking about kindness. I’m praying that someday we’ll see a little girl, and after that a young lady, who will grow the fruit of kindness. To grow this sweet fruit she’ll need the Spirit of God, won’t she? She’ll need Jesus. We who love her will keep praying for that. And we’ll keep on praying that one day we’ll see a little girl who is everything nice!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

My Poor Little Garden

"...The grass withers, and its flower falls away, But the word of the LORD endures forever."
1 Peter 1:24b-25

Yesterday, I went outside to weed and hoe my little plot of marigolds after weeks of neglect. It was a rather sad event. Well, I haven’t been totally negligent, as I have managed to give it water on a daily basis, but that’s about all that’s been done in quite a while. Now this garden is nothing to brag about as far as gardens go. It measures roughly 5 feet by 5 feet and contains 12 plants. And that’s it. I have never been accused of having anything remotely resembling a green thumb, but each year I get this determination to try to have something pretty growing around our house.

My hubby has taken over the hanging flowers and the impatiens across the front, all of which were once my territory also, Okay, I admit it. They are faring better than they ever have in any other year.

That is not the case with that poor meager plot of marigolds in the back yard. And there is one pitiful small plant among the group that has had particular trials. It is hanging on, but barely. Once, about a month ago, I noticed a baby slug attached to it, sapping life from it. Thankfully, somehow I did get up enough nerve to remove the slimy thing and pitch it across the yard. The slug that is, not the marigold. The plant seems to have recovered somewhat from that ordeal. However, it has also had to endure the misfortune of being stepped on by a squirrel, maybe more than once. And then, another time, I was horrified to see one of the hind legs of my dog Frodo resting on that very same spot. I’m not sure how this has affected things, but there was also a time that I saw a few mourning doves walking around in that area. (One of the thanks I get for feeding them.) And then, of course, it hasn’t helped that the caretaker has not been more diligent.

While pulling weeds out from this one single piece of land that I have to care for, I felt a little ashamed of myself. It has been my job to cultivate it, and I have not done well. Then I thought of Selena. I thought about the job that is ahead for her parents, once she arrives. I thought about her need to be cultivated. Oh, I know that she’ll need to be fed and changed and sheltered and all that. But she’ll need much more. She’ll need to be nurtured in even more important ways than those. She’ll need to have God’s Word instilled in her heart so that she can survive all the misuses and misfortunes which will probably come her way.
There will likely come a time when someone will trample on her, or at least try to. At some other time someone may try to latch on and sap life out of her. Some people may even do their own brand of pecking away at her. All I hope is that her daddy and mommy will keep on watering and hoeing and weeding. Then, I pray, she’ll grow strong in the ways that matter most. By and by, it would be wonderful to see her hold up even better than my courageous little marigold plant.

Friday, August 11, 2006

What a world

Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? Psalm 2:1

What is this world coming to. I didn’t put a question mark after that sentence because it’s not really a question. And then I didn’t put an exclamation point after it, because it is not said in surprise or excitement or even horror. It’s more that it’s said in resignation. Sometimes, I must admit, it is said (or thought) with a good bit of sadness.

The world that my first grandchild is coming into is not a very pretty picture, really. It’s one in which trying to board an airplane has become one of the most complicated events under the sun. Yes, it’s one where men are so bent on evil that even a tube of toothpaste cannot be considered safe. Or even shampoo. Or lipstick. They think that perhaps a jar of baby food is, but I’m not so sure of that either.

But I still stand by my last entry where I talked about the weather. We can’t for one minute think that our God is not in control. If it were not for believing that, I would despair at our little Selena coming into such a place as this. But we have the truths of the second Psalm and the first chapter of Romans, and all that good stuff. So we know what’s really going on. And we’ll make sure she knows as she grows.

Well, even though the world may not be such a great place, we live in a different realm, thanks be to Jesus. I know her daddy and mommy will do their best to protect her from the evils of this present age, and we’ll sure try to help.

That’s all I have to say today.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Whew! It's hot!

The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, and night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world. In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat. Psalm 19:1-6

We are in the throes of a horrible heat wave. Actually, it’s really not all that bad. Even though there are many people who are at particular risk, for most of us, our struggles are minimal. I’m writing from my air conditioned home and like a lot of other people, there are plenty of cool places that we can go for relief, even when we go out. But, in our area, it is the big news item for this week and it is really hot!

Actually, the forecasters have amused me. For the last three days they have predicted that the temperatures would go to 100 degrees and each day it has not made it. I can tell that they are a bit disappointed. I get the feeling while listening to them that they are pushing for the numbers to go “above the century mark”, as they put it. So far, by the time early evening comes, it has fallen short and then they come on and say, “We didn’t quite make it today, etc.” That’s because they really are not the ones who call the shots are they? The number of degrees we reach, the percentage of humidity, whether it rains, thunders, or freezes and snows is not up to them. They can try and determine what it will do, but they can’t do it. It is all at the bidding of One much higher. We all know Who that is, even if we don’t want to admit it. Yes, it is our God who controls “the numbers” along with everything else.

So, the heat index and chill factor and everything in between is governed by Him. It all goes as He commands. This past Sunday, a wonderful sermon was preached at our church. It was about God. You’re probably saying to yourself, “I thought all sermons were about God.” Well, yes, that’s true, or at least it should be. But sometimes good preachers talk more about people and what they should or should not do to please God. And it is important for them to do that. Or sometimes they talk about specific incidents that are recorded in the Bible. That’s good too. But this past Lord’s Day, Pastor Dale brought the greatness of God Himself before us in wonder and praise. One of the primary points that he made, and which I hope to remember, is that all that we can ever know proceeded from God and all things begin with Him and work down. An awesome, awesome thought. And that includes all that is related to nature, including our weather.

And that includes my grandchild in the womb. This coming Saturday, her mother will have completed 34 weeks of pregnancy. That means in reality Selena is almost 34 weeks in existence. But we’ll start counting her days after she arrives and, of course, we’ll be praying that God will bring her here safely. There is a sense in which she, like the heat of the sun, will be doing what He commands whenever she does come. And it will be His timing.

The fourth catechism question asks the child how he or she can glorify God. The answer to that one is both simple and profound: By loving Him and doing what He commands. Well, as I’ve been saying, she already is doing what He commands, isn’t she? Just the fact that every day she’s adding this and that to her being (as I talked about on a prior entry) is at His command. And as I said earlier here,
whenever He wills her arrival, that too is at His command.

But our hope and prayer is that after her arrival and after she begins to make the kind of decisions for right and wrong that only humans can, she will still try to do what he commands. And another thing, while all nature does what He directs and brings glory to Him by doing so, only we who are His children can love Him. So Selena can only glorify her Creator, as it says in the catechism, if and when she comes to love Him. Then the entire catechism answer would be true of her. She would glorify Him by loving Him and doing what He commands. Let’s just pray that it will be so.

I wonder what the temperature will go up to today. I’ll let you know.