Happy Father's Day
to all the dads
who provide a good and godly example
for their children.
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.
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?
Jesus, the Ever-Living One
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,
Indeed, our awesome Creator and Sustainer is worthy of our praise.
*written by St. Francis of Assisi (1225) and translated by William H. Draper
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.”
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.
Note: I wrote the gist of the following in my journal in December 1997. However, the message remains true and applicable to us today.
As I reflect on all that happened last year, I also look toward the New Year and wonder what it will hold. None of us knows what's ahead, not even in the next hour. But I take comfort in this sentence I read in a little booklet as I waited for an appointment: “Every ending holds the promise of a new beginning.”
I like that, don't you? Whether the ending is a good thing or a bad thing, it does hold the promise of a new beginning. Perhaps it holds an opportunity to start over. Or an opportunity to experience growth of various kinds—emotional, mental, financial, spiritual, social, leadership, etc. That’s exciting!
On the other hand, new beginnings can be scary. However, there’s much wisdom expressed in an old song, these bits and snatches of which came to mind as I thought about what might be ahead:
“I don’t worry o’er the future. I just live from day to day. I don’t borrow from its sunshine for its skies may turn to gray. I don’t worry about tomorrow. It may bring me poverty. But the One who feeds the sparrow is the One who stands by me.”
To listen to the entire song, please click here.
My heart was heavy as 2022 came to an end. I was thinking about so many dear ones who have problems that are heartbreaking and have no obvious solution. But as my husband and I traveled toward a friend's house on New Year’s Eve, we noticed the sky was a vivid orange near the horizon, making it appear as if a fire raged behind the trees.
And, indeed, He is. He's in charge of the natural world. He's in charge of every living thing, including the human race. He's in charge of the things that happen and those that don't.
As I reflected on those awesome truths, I recalled these words written by the psalmist David:
But the LORD is in his holy Temple;
the LORD still rules from heaven...~Psalm 11:4, NLT
Other Scriptures point out that God is in charge, even when we think He isn't. Even when we think He has forgotten about us. Even when we think He is never going to do anything. Granted, He may not resolve the situation in the way we want Him to, but whatever He does will be the right thing.
As we wait for God to act, we can remind ourselves, as did Moses as he was speaking to God's people centuries ago:
Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments.
~Deuteronomy 7:9. NKJV
As we enter a New Year, let's remind ourselves daily to trust God in every situation. As the centuries-old hymn says:
Simply trusting ev'ry day,
Trusting thro' a stormy way;
Even when my faith is small,
Trusting Jesus, that is all....Singing if my way is clear,Praying if the path be drear;If in danger, for him call;Trusting Jesus, that is all....~Ira D. Sankey, 1876