March 29, 2010

Grand Simplicity

God has graciously granted one of my biggest wishes by giving Dani a fabulous teacher at her Day Hab who is also a wonderful Christian. Loretta is a spunky Italian who lives life fully each and every moment. Her deep brown eyes grab my attention every time she speaks and I can't help but smile watching her hands fly around with that good ole Italian gusto. She loves the Lord and loves our little Dani, which is why she invited us to her church last night to see her sing in a cantata.

We told Dani she'd see her teacher sing at another church and she was cautiously excited, not knowing exactly what to expect. We arrived and were immediately welcomed by those about to perform. Loretta's husband saw Dani and rushed to our side to say hello. He took us to Loretta who then escorted us to our seat and introduced us to the pastor. The church was much smaller than we are accustomed to, but as we settled in the small sanctuary waiting for the performance to begin, I began to feel something very special as tears began to overtake me. It was all I could do to keep my composure as I watched and waited. Beyond a shadow of a doubt the Holy Spirit was in our midst!

The singers dressed in black and white took the stage, as the younger helped the older and more fragile up the few carpet covered stairs. Some sat in chairs due to medical conditions, one lady gripped a cane, and they all held black binders which held their music. I caught myself praying for the elderly man with the black suspenders on the left side of the stage. Prior to the start he had shared that during rehearsal his blood sugar dropped so low he fell off his seat, scaring everyone half to death. He assured us he'd eaten well and that we could expect an emergency-free cantata.

The lights dimmed, the music started, and the Lord began to move. I couldn't get over how simple everything was, both the performance and the presentation, yet the Holy Spirit was stirring in my heart like a gargantuan wooden spoon in a big black kettle. I'd heard better singers before, I'd seen some of the most gifted actors in the past, and I'd sat before fancier scenery. But all that apparently doesn't matter when God is present because this humble group standing before me, medical conditions and all, was bringing me to my knees.

The event's purity was so gripping and refreshing I had tears in my eyes even today. It was truly grand simplicity at its very best and I walked away sensing the Lord had a good lesson for me to learn. Life can be so complicated but God is simple. Simple love. Simple grace. Simple forgiveness.

The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast

heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.

They took palm branches and went out to meet him,

shouting, “Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

"Blessed is the King of Israel!”

Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it,

as it is written,

“Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion;

see, your king is coming,

seated on a donkey’s colt.”

John 12:12-15

March 20, 2010

Welcome Spring!

Today is the first day of spring! The sure sign warm weather, green grass, budding flowers, and days filled with golden sunshine are just around the corner and I can hardly wait. The weather certainly has a mind of its own, however. After all, the calendar states clear as a bell it’s spring, yet the forecast calls for rain mixed with snow. I could be upset but it wouldn’t be worth it. Spring is official and that’s all that counts.

The change from winter to spring is a fascinating thing. Warm months make their way back into our lives by a subtle inconspicuous tilt of the earth. Making its way above the equator, this mild adjustment of the sun sets this happy season in motion; something only a holy Creator could master with precision time and time again. Perhaps this is why spring is the sign of hope. It’s God’s handiwork and signal to man of true and lasting hope.

Spring also marks the celebration of another grand event, Easter, the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Just as the sun’s move north of the earth’s equator brings nature new life, so too does the remembrance of what Christ has done for us. With the same power used to create the world and all that is in it, He rolled away the stone to conquered sin and death. How awesome is God’s great power and love and what hope this brings to my heart. I hope it refreshes your soul too.

Maybe your day is a bit chilly and mixed with “rain and snow” too. If so, keep in mind where your true hope lies. Our King Jesus is slowly but surely making His way toward us. Each new day marches us one step closer to Him and soon He'll come to take us home. What a wonderful day that will be. I do declare that’s a change of season I look forward to!

Happy Spring!

Sunday March 21st. When all was said and done, according to our deck railing, we received a total of 9" of spring snow.

March 13, 2010

Closer than a Brother

When Cocoa Bean came into our lives we hadn't planned on having two dogs, but he grew on us like a little weed. Cute as a bug's ear, we just had to keep him after his mama birthed him and his eight brothers and sisters in our home. Once the decision was made to keep him I couldn't help but wonder what role God had for him in our family. The other night I got a glimpse.

Each evening when we put Dani to bed we say our prayers and always include her brother who lives out of town. She misses Drew but understands she can only see him every so often. The other night, after the amen, I look down to see Cocoa Bean standing on the foot of the bed waiting for something. It seemed a bit odd he wouldn't lay down, but I figured he was simply waiting to follow me out. I couldn't have been more wrong.

Turns out he had no intentions of leaving with me at all. He was in fact waiting for me to skedattle in order to take my place. Snuggling up close to Dani, he looked at me as if to say, "I thought you'd never leave." After a quick flash of the camera he got his wish and I left the two alone.

Beanie Weenie sleeps with Dani every night. Like a guard standing post he's with her as she drifts off to sleep and protects her through the dark midnight hours. Even though she rarely pets and by all accounts ignores him, he doesn't care. Somehow knowing she's different and in need of extra special attention, he's adopted her and accepted the job as her companion and friend. Now I see one of the gifts God has given us in our little Bean. A little brother who cares for our Dani with unconditional love.

It's good to know God loves us with an everlasting love as well. When life gets lonely and darkness threatens to swallow us whole, He is there to comfort and provide. He continues to love us even when we are unlovable and is faithful to remain by our side when we forget or choose to ignore Him. He is faithful to the end. Let us thank Him for abounding love.

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort,

who comforts us in all our troubles,

so that we can comfort those in any trouble

with the comfort we ourselves have received from God."

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

March 8, 2010

86 Years

We celebrated my father's 86th birthday this week and topped it off with dinner at a place where he and mom used to frequent, Jumpin' Catfish. As we got out of the car Dani saw her grandpa pulling in with my brother and sister-in-law and took off. She's always happy to see her grandpa, take hold of his hand, and give him a big hug. This night was no exception.

At 86 years old we're grateful for the years God has blessed dad with. He's certainly a survivor having lived through hands-on combat in WWII and one of the biggest natural disasters to hit the midwest in 1957, the Ruskin Heights Tornado. This wicked twister abducted him from the family, leaving mom to search high and low for her husband. She eventually found him in an area hospital with a collapsed lung. A few good Samaritans discovered him injured in the rubble, loaded him onto a door they used as a make-shift gurney, and took him to the hospital. He not only lived to see another day, but another 53 years.

Dad tells me the invention that astounds him the most is the cell phone. The ability to make a phone call to and from anywhere using a little gadget from his pocket is nothing other than utterly amazing. I gotta say I'm with him on this one too. I love texting our son, Drew, throughout the day and not having to wait till he gets home to receive a call. Things have come a long way since dad was a kid and I came to a new realization of how blessed my generations has been as he told of life as a child in the summer of 1930.

His family, like all others, was poor. When it came to shoes they had money, but only for one pair and they were for winter. This meant they walked, ran, and played all summer in bare feet. He said during the dog-days of summer they always ran and never walked because the pavement was too hot to walk on. As he told this story around the dinner table a vivid picture of all my flip-flops, pool shoes, and sandals popped into my head. While I know how hot pavement can get in the summer, I haven't a clue what it's like to have no shoes to protect my feet.

God had blessed me with a strong and steady father. He never gives up and continues to persevere. Putting family first for all these years, he's been a wonderful example of what a Christian should be. Firm, fixed, and focused to the end. Thanks for showing me these godly principles dad and Happy Birthday!