A Father’s Arms

This past weekend I attended a worship night at our church. Of everything we do at church, worship nights are one of my favorite things. I came early so I could sit in a row close to the front and on the outside of the aisle, because of, well, short girl problems. If I am farther in the row and someone tall sits in front of me I may as well have saved myself the time of coming early.

As worship began and we were singing in earnest a father with his son nestled in his arms slipped into the row ahead of me. It was obvious the young boy, who was well past toddlerhood, was tired. I noticed when his eyelids gently shut and he snuggled deeper into his father’s arms. Soon he was sound asleep and even the enthusiastic singing all around him did not wake him up.

I watched as the father continued to hold his child tightly while he was singing praises to God. He held him during our entire worship service–sometimes when he was standing, and sometimes when he was sitting. But through it all he continued to lovingly hold him in his arms.

As I watched the son put his arms around his father’s neck when he finally stirred, it hit me that he had a lot of trust in his dad. I don’t think he was concerned about falling, or being abandoned while he slept, or any other myriad of things that a person can think about when they put themselves in someone else’s hands. He just cuddled up to his dad and slept, and all was right with his world.

Isn’t that the way it should be with our heavenly father? We know our father loves us and we should be able to trust that he has us when we are weary and tired. He will hold onto us and not let us slip from his grip. Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29). In 1 Peter 5:7, it says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (NLT)

For some reason, seeing the young boy and his father reminded me that we have a heavenly Father that cares about us and when we are tired and weary, we can trust him to hold us in his arms and not let us fall. Until we take our last breath we can trust God to be holding our hand. What a beautiful reassurance I have when I read Isaiah 46:4 “I will be your God throughout your lifetime – until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you” I am grateful for a father’s love and the knowledge that he will not let me go.

How Should We Love?

In the book of Acts we see the infancy of the church. As we read we find that as early as the third chapter of Acts, the body of believers was established after Peter addressed the crowd on the day of Pentecost. In Acts 3:42-47 we see the response of the believers, who devoted themselves to the teaching of Christ and to fellowship with one another. Some of the highlights of this passage: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship”, “selling their possession and goods, they gave to anyone who had need,” and “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”

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The Little Yellow House

One of my favorite aunts passed away yesterday (dare I say my favorite?). I only have two aunts left out of 14 originally. She was kind and compassionate, hospitable, and patient. She was generous with her love. And even though she had bright red hair, she did not have the temper that is such a stereotype for redheads! Although I do have to say I saw her aggravated occasionally, usually with my uncle. But it must not have been too bad because they were married over 65 years.

I have lots of fond memories of spending time at her little yellow house that was truly a home. I loved her green Fiesta Ware dishes that were square instead of round. I enjoyed eating her “cheesecake.” It was not until later that I learned it technically was pineapple fluff, not a true cheesecake. But it did have a graham cracker crust and cream cheese in it.

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Dinosaur Days

Today it is once again gloomy, with weathermen predicting anything from sleet, to snow, to ice, and to rain. And really, who knows? But I know on days like this I sometimes just need a little laughter in my life.

A few months ago, my grandson left his toy dinosaur at my house. I guess I was just a little bored, because I tagged my son in a post on facebook.

“Will you please tell your son that I have been trying to take good care of T-Rex after he left him at my house. But today I found him in my refrigerator trying to eat all my pepperoni. It was a tough battle to get them back, but I got ‘er done!”

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My Valentine’s Day

Today is Valentine’s Day. A day that brings joy to some people, and stress to others. My cynical friends will say that it is just a day for merchants to sell more merchandise, and indeed I noticed the flower prices in my local grocery store went up substantially the week before Valentine’s Day hit. But my more romantic friends will anticipate receiving flowers, candy, or any number of things to celebrate their love.

The first year after my husband died, I found Valentine’s Day a difficult holiday to face. Now the thing is, it had never been a big deal day in our home. We didn’t do fancy dinners, or spend unnecessary money on a dozen roses. We were lucky if we gave each other cards some years. But we were together, and we loved each other. There was something about that security of knowing someone loves you and that you love someone that makes the day special. After he died, I found myself longing to be back where we were. But you cannot go back, you can only go forward.

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Snow Days

Today I am looking out my window and watching the snow steadily fall with a quiet whisper. As it accumulates and covers everything with a blanket of white, in my mind I am revisiting my childhood. Days like today have a sweet poignancy for me. They remind me of days that are past, but memories that are priceless.

I can envision the snow drifts piled along the fences and covering some of the roads. There was no snowplow with its big scoop to shovel the snow on our quarter mile lane. If it was a weekday, we put on our snow boots and walked to the main road and waited until the school bus came. But when we had snow on a weekend–then the fun began. We lived in the country and watching tv on snowy days was not an option.

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I Love You More

When I was growing up my parents were not good at saying “I love you” or giving out hugs. It really wasn’t until my early 30s that I started hearing those words when I would come home for a visit. Do not misunderstand me—I knew my parents loved me, they proved it over and over by their actions. But they did not say it until I was older. I am not sure why it changed, but I remember being surprised the first time my mom actually said “I love you” when she hugged me goodbye. Those were words I treasured because I did not hear them very often.

When I was in high school, I remember going to my friend’s house and she would say to her mom, “I love you” and her mom would always reply, “I love you more.” I would longingly think how nice it would be to hear those words. They really were not a contest about who could love the most, but an affirmation that their love was deep and abiding.

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Welcome Home!

This morning when I opened my facebook, I saw a picture of my friend’s parents when they were much younger. The news was both heartbreaking and joy making. Nita Hargrave had gone home to her heavenly father and to those who had reached heaven before her, including her husband.

My heart aches for her children and grandchildren who will miss her dearly. But my heart also rejoices for them — because they have the privilege and joy of knowing she loved God and them with all of her heart.

I met the Hargrave family when I was a young 17-year-old college student. I roomed with their daughter, Debby, for many of my young adult years. I do not think they will ever know the full impact they had on my life. Continue reading

A Defining Day

On May 16, 1981, I woke up with a great sense of excitement and a little bit of apprehension. It was cloudy and rainy, but I did not let that dampen my anticipation of the day. In some ways it seemed like I had waited a lifetime for this day, but in others it seemed wonderfully new.

As I showered and  dressed, I realized that my whole life was about to change. No longer would my decisions impact only me, they would impact us. No longer would I be able to take off and go somewhere without a thought for telling someone where I was going. No longer would I eat toaster pastries for supper and consider that a meal.

A little voice inside my head said, “Are you sure you want to do this?” No. Wait. Continue reading

The Holidays Are Coming

holiday_stress_shutterstock_62603809I love the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are two of my favorites. For many people the holidays are a joyous time to be around family and friends, however, for some individuals it is a time of stress and turmoil. For the perfectionist, unrealistic expectations of the perfect house, perfect gifts, and perfect entertainments can take a toll. For the lonely and those who have recently lost loved ones, the holidays can accentuate their very aloneness. For others, the thought of being with certain family members makes them cringe. The reasons for holiday stress are many and varied, but most of us experience it to some degree.

One of the hardest things I have learned is to Let Go of Unreasonable Expectations. Here are some expectations that contribute to stress during the holidays. Continue reading