Friday, April 26, 2024

Grief and Gratitude

As I write these words, today is day 116 since my husband passed away. I’ve felt particularly sad and lonely today, which happens when I stay home all day and don’t keep busy, busy, busy. Obviously, activities and conversations mask the grief. But, oh my, I feel the full force of it when I’m alone and not focusing on projects and other tasks on my to-do list. But sometimes I have no choice but to let my tired body rest.

To escape the grief, I went to visit a friend in a nearby nursing home. She was delighted to see me, for she deals with griefs of her own. I was happy to be with her. We talked of many things as we sat outside while relaxing in the sunshine and listening to the birds chirping as they flew among the branches of the trees and boxwoods.

When I returned home, I noticed the first rose of the season on the bush my husband had planted years ago. My heart filled with happiness when I saw it, thankful that the work he had done long ago was lifting my spirits. I looked around the yard and saw not one, but two, pink and white amaryllis blooms--bigger than my palm--with other buds in the background. Once again, I felt grateful for his planting them.

As with most things these days, even a happy thought of days gone by can lead to tears as I realize those days are gone. He will plant no more flowers. But I can enjoy the ones he planted, even as I brush away the tears

Every day, I see other gifts he left behind, each a reminder of his love. And I whisper a heartfelt thank you to him and to God who gave us many years together as husband and wife, years when we made wonderful, now bittersweet, memories.

Sunday, December 17, 2023

The Gift

Throughout the year, I listen carefully while talking with family and friends. When they say, “I’d love to have…”, I take note of that. Doing so, along with listing those ideas in places I’m sure to see them, helps me choose gifts loved ones will enjoy receiving on a special occasion.

As I reflect on gift-giving, several Scripture passages come to mind. One of my favorites is found in the third chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. As the story opens, Peter and John are on their way to worship at the temple. When they hear a lame man begging for money, they stop. Peter says to him, “I don’t have what you’re asking for, but I do have what you need.”

Then, in the name of Jesus and with His power, Peter commands the man to rise up and walk. Although the man had been lame since birth, he stands up and begins leaping and praising God for the gift given to him, a gift far greater than the money he had been asking for.

Likewise, our Heavenly Father knows what we truly need and will supply it in His time and in His way. For example, because God knew the people of all time needed a Savior, He sent His Son at the time God had planned. (See Galatians 4.) And, oh, the gifts He brought. Not only forgiveness of sins and the right to become children of God and to enjoy Him now and throughout all eternity but also love, peace, joy, and so much more.  

We may think we want whatever is inside beautifully packaged gifts, but we need a Savior far more. And God has given us one.

Let’s praise Him for that awesome Gift—and for His other wonderful gifts too numerous to count.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Happy Father's Day

Happy Father's Day 

to all the dads 

who provide a good and godly example

for their children. 

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Honoring the Fallen

Memorial Day…a day to pay tribute to and mourn those who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. As one person pointed out, it is not a celebration but rather a day of solemn contemplation as we consider the vast numbers of men and women who bravely went off to war and never came home. We thank God for their willingness to serve our country. We, along with their families, mourn their passing.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

Sing On!

When I colored the 4" x 6" card that's pictured here, the words Oh, sing to the Lord reminded me of my sweet Mama. From childhood on, I remember that many times throughout the day Mama either sang softly or hummed her favorite Gospel songs as she did household chores, crocheted, or quilted. 

Even as Alzheimer's eroded her memory, she still hummed many of her favorite hymns. Their words encouraged her. They enabled her to worship and praise God. They reminded her of eternal truths, of God's precious promises, of the assurance of His love, of His presence with her...

Mama did what Priscilla J. Owens (born in 1829) says to do:

Sing it softly through the gloom,

When the heart for mercy craves;

Sing in triumph o'er the tomb;

Jesus saves! Jesus saves!

I want to do likewise. Do you?

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Jesus, the Ever-Living One

 Jesus, the Ever-Living One

Before He made the heavens and the earth,
Before angelic hosts announced His birth,
Before His public ministry began,
Jesus was central to the Father's plan.

He came. He loved and served. And then He died.
His shed blood did our forgiveness provide.
Victorious, He arose to life anew,
To give life to sinners like me and you.

Because our Savior lives eternally, 
So shall we if in Him we do believe.
Thus God's Gift will continue on and on
Throughout the ages 'round the heav'nly throne.

All the redeemed will lift up holy hands,
And sing right along with the heav'nly band.
Saints will gladly praise Him for all He's done,
And thank God for the gift of His dear Son.
Jesus Christ, the Ever-Living One.

(c) April 2023 by Johnnie Ann Burgess Gaskill

Sunday, March 26, 2023


Several weeks ago, a friend gave my husband and me a bluebird house made of cedar. He fastened it to a post in our backyard. 

One recent afternoon when I paused to look in that direction, I saw a bluebird fluttering around the opening and then alighting on the top of the post. 

I hurried to tell my husband what I'd seen. He grinned. "I guess that means you want me to remove a window screen?"

I nodded, eager to start photographing the goings on at the nest. As I stood near the open window and photographed with my mirrorless camera that has a zoom lens, I thought about Mr. Al Larson. He has loved bluebirds for many years. (And, thankfully, God has given him many years to enjoy them--101 years, as of March 26.)  Through the years, Mr. Larson has built and placed hundreds of nesting boxes for the bluebirds. (For more details about this dear man, affectionately called, "The Birdman of Idaho," read this post I wrote in March 2021).

Since I've never had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Larson, I'm not sure how he came to love them, but he definitely does. I assume the sight of a bluebird enthralls him, as it does others (including me). 

I'm awed by their beauty and by how focused they are on nest building. (See the photo of one of my new neighbors with a bit of nesting material in her mouth.) In the next few weeks, I hope to photograph the faithful parents going in and out of the nest to deliver bugs and worms to their little ones.

As I observe my new neighbors and learn life lessons from them, I'm sure I'll think again and again about an ancient hymn* that says, in part: 

All creatures of our God and King, 

Lift up your voice and with us sing, 

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Indeed, our awesome Creator and Sustainer is worthy of our praise.

*written by St. Francis of Assisi (1225) and translated by William H. Draper 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023



Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

—-James 1:17, NKJV

Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Don't Give Up!

 Tears filled my eyes as I watched a video a friend had sent me of her one-year-old grandson, who was teetering and tottering as he walked a short distance across a room in his house. I admired his determination to walk on feet and legs that weren’t accustomed to standing and walking.

Unsteady though he was, he was laser-focused on making it to an area that contained some of his toys. That cute little “knee high to a grasshopper” fellow knew what he wanted. He went for it. He tossed aside his doubts and fears. He didn’t criticize himself for not walking confidently and quickly like the adults around him. Nope. He chose to do the best he could do and to move toward what he wanted.

Less than an hour later, while paging through a magazine, I came to an article about the true power of senior dogs. The accompanying pictures touched my heart, one in particular.

It depicted a chihuahua wearing a metal brace that was strapped across his mid-section and extended past his hind legs. The assistive device had wheels and looked as if it weighed about as much as the little dog. The caption said, “Despite their health woes, senior dogs never give up. They adapt and move on with life.” 

That photo brought to mind a brave little dog my son-in-law found after the dog had been seriously injured by a hit-and-run driver. My son-in-law took the dog to the vet.

Miraculously, Buddy survived and appeared happy, even as he limped along for a couple of months before having to have one of his rear legs amputated. For several years, he stayed active. But he finally needed to be carried up and down the steps that led to their backyard where he loved to lie in the lush green grass and bask in the sun while watching the other dogs run and play.

Even as his health deteriorated to the point that the vet said the merciful thing to do was to put the dog down, Buddy remained his sweet, easy-going, cheerful self. As always, he seemed to smile at everyone and to enjoy life, despite being in pain.

As I thought about the little boy walking on wobbly legs, about the dog pictured in the magazine, and about Buddy, I realized they were giving me an example to follow: Carry on, despite your circumstances. Adapt. But don’t give up—no matter how hard you must struggle to get to do what you desire to do and to get to the places you want to go.

Dear Reader, are you dealing with something that you feel is too hard for you? Do you want to curl up and give up instead of keep on going? Please don’t give in to those feelings. 

Your friends and family still need you. Even as you struggle, you can still inspire others to continue on—no matter how hard it is. Those around you need you to show them that it is possible to go on. Then when they encounter difficulties, they will remember and follow the courageous example you set for them.

Let’s resolve to live fully during all the days the Lord gives us. Whether we’re young or old, whether we’re well or weak, whether we’re confident or afraid, let’s move forward, thanking God for the gift of each day, for His presence with us, and for the strength He gives us to deal with whatever challenges we face.