Grandpas are to Love

For as long as I can remember, I’ve experienced the gift of joy as I watch my father’s hands. They move effortlessly, beautifully, skimming over the ivory and onyx keys of his piano or an organ, or his keyboard. I listen to his soul-moving music, wondering how much longer I’ll hear it since he received the disheartening news.

He’s eighty-four, slender, and a little stooped now, yet he appears strong and healthy for his age.

My mind slips back to yesterday–except for a couple of God-given sunbeams–not a very happy day, yesterday.

So I’ll focus on the sunbeams.

It’s early afternoon. Dad and I sit together waiting to see the doctor, a specialist in hand surgery.

We’ll schedule needed surgery when we see him. Not a highlight of either of our lives.

Dad’s hands are healthy except for his right thumb. Cancer has staked its claim.

Today his hands are whole. In a week they won’t be whole any longer.

Several children are in the reception area as we wait to see the doctor.

Dad and I have big mushy hearts for children and the elderly.

Wherever I take my father, he attracts both. When I’m alone with him, our spirits mirror one another.  I have precious glimpses of his love for life and his joying in it.

He always gives others joy.

Especially children.

A tiny, chubby, cherub of a baby girl, maybe eighteen months old or so, walks all around, exploring the waiting room. She’s adorable with her light brown little face, big dancing brown eyes, and constant smile. She begins peeking at Dad, who watches her, sending her his own big smile.

I think she’s fascinated with his snow white beard.

It isn’t long before she pauses in front of him, gazes up at him.

She looks over at me, not quite seeming to know what he is or what to make of him.

I nod, and smile back at her sweet, inquisitive expression.

“That’s a Grandpa,” I tell her, “Grandpa’s are to love.”

She turns back to look at him, to study him for a few long seconds, then without a hesitant step, she toddles straight over to him.

Her little arms encircle his legs, and she lays her head-full of chocolate-colored curls right down on his knees in the dearest, gentlest hug I think I’ve ever seen.

Then, she raises her head to look up at him, and sends him another beautiful smile before she toddles off to her family.

Tears brim in my dad’s eyes.

Mine too.

What dear, precious, pure love! A hug for Dad—through her sweet little arms—from God’s own heart.

The stinging dread of what my father will have to go through—what he will miss—softens a little for me. I’m not sure what Dad thinks, but I’m praying.

On the way out, Dad stops to pass his good cheer to an elderly woman in a wheelchair. He pats her arm and gifts her with his words of encouragement.

I watch age-etched lines ease away with her smile.

The doctor is confident that he’ll go through this surgery just fine.

I am too.

God is with us, will strengthen and help us, and will uphold us.

We’re called to love–to love our heavenly Father with all our hearts, and others as ourselves.

With His help we can! ☺

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. Deuteronomy 6:5

Jesus answered the scribe, “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

Have you seen and experienced love personified recently?

Mini Epilogue

We had a lot to be thankful for. Dad did come through his surgery well, and he never stopped playing the piano. He’s with his beloved Lord Jesus now, after having lived four more years. I still miss him very much. Besides that precious baby girl, I think he was the best hugger ever.

Hug someone today!

Love,

 Sally  

Advertisements

Sun-Browned Joy

 

 

 

 

 

 

Browned bare toes are buried
Deep in damp warm sand

This is where I’m so unhurried
Dearly love this sweet beach-landStooping down to dig right here
Creating castles on my knees

Castles that melt and disappear
And blend with vast blue seas

God is in the sea and sand
He’s in the salty air
With me He dances on the dune
And nothing can compare

How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand
Psalm 139:17-18a

Let them praise His name with the dance;
Let them sing praises to Him with the timbrel and harp.
For the Lord takes pleasure in His people;
He will beautify the humble with salvation. Psalm 149: 3-4

Jesus said “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:11
We build our sand castles; they rise and fall and vanish.
But God’s
love
forgiveness
 eternal life
Stand
Tuck yourself into that little poem
Find thankfulness
Dance through this week-to-come with Him
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
He is our God. He is Lord . . .
Lord of the dance, the sands, the seas, and the songs

Lord of all

  Rejoice 
Love,
Sally
The Stonekeepers
Amazon Author Page
Novel - The Stonekeepers

Novel – The Stonekeepers

Remembering Ridge

Mid-October is spectacular in Western North Carolina this year. The hardwoods are coloring up, especially the maples, vivid and bright with their fluttery robes of red and gold leaves. Jerry and I love the cooler temperatures, but we have to return to Florida next week.

We’re on the way home from one of our meandering scenic drives when I decide to buy another Loafers Glory T-shirt at the General Store in Loafers Glory.

According to my Loafers Glory friend and native resident, this store’s been here since 1955. It was built on the same spot as the original General Store that was washed away in 1905 or ’06 by a flood that she said her daddy called a May fresh.

It’s like going back in time—a charmer of a place that you could spend hours in. The rusted springs on the screen door screech as I step over the worn wood threshold and into the store. Late afternoon sunshine floods through the big plate glass windows. The scents, a mix of candy, tobacco, and new fabric, waft around me. I gaze at small tubs full of buttons, displays of thread, and an endless array of sewing needs. I see racks of tourist temptations—including T-shirts—and smile. I was once one of those tempted travelers. Now I spend a lot of time here in NC, no longer a tourist, but neither am I a full-time resident.

Fred and Iris Garland are. This was once their store, and Iris has told me some of her stories. Love those stories and these two wonderful Loafers Glory residents.

A little boy peeks at me from around a bin of cloth remnants. Seconds later he saunters out from behind the bin.

“Hi!” says he, then announces in the most wonderful North Carolina drawl ever “I’m gonna be five next April!”

He punches the air, wiggling five fingers.

Let’s see now . . . that’s six months away.

He’s cute, a little cocky, and has my total attention as I study him.

He reels me in . . . with his head full of curly, carrot-red hair and a batch of brown freckles across his nose.

“What’s yore name?”

“I’m Sally.”

He’s not shy, guileless maybe. And suddenly, I just love this little guy.

He looks a lot like this but without the straw hat–which I’m sure he has stowed behind the counter.

“Ah’m Ridge.” He draws his name out, nearly makes it into two syllables.

Really? A little boy named Ridge? Unusual. But maybe not up here where mountain ridges are everywhere. And I figure he has to be saying Reg, short for Reginald.

“Ridge?” I repeat it carefully, frame it as a question.

And he grins up at me and nods, like, ‘good for you, you got it!’ his curls bobbing like twisty little springs . . . and  changes the subject.

I get goose bumps, totally enthralled and stuck on his name.

But I listen as he tells me he fell on the sidewalk a few minutes ago and scraped up the heel of his left hand. He holds it up.

“It’s bleedin’ a little and stings like a road burn, but it ain’t nuthin’.”

He shrugs. He’s brave, and I pray that his hand stops stinging soon. He barely takes a breath before he needs to tell me more. You know, ‘portant stuff.’

“We got chewin’ gum in this store.” He looks up at me like I should be very surprised.

I bite the inside of my cheek to keep the smile from reaching my ears!

“Okay, where is this chewing gum?”

Ridge proceeds to show me. He grabs my hand, and instead of the aisle where candy and chewing gum might be, he leads me around to where they sell material from large bolts. Reaching in deep behind two of the heavy, colorful bolts, he pulls out a package of bubble gum that’s in the shape of paper money.

He hauls a “bill” out of the package, bites off a big hunk and hands the rest to me so I can take a bite too. I take the offered piece and break a chunk off. I’m positive he has a good-sized private stash buried behind those bolts of cloth.

It’s good, pretty tasty gum as gum goes!

But also good is that the hero of my novel has just been given the awesome name, Ridge, in honor of my new friend, who waves and blows me kisses as I leave his grandparents’ store.

A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, Loving favor rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1
I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. Psalm 22:22

 ♥

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Remembering to pray before, during, and after writing sessions, to pray over everything including character names, isn’t always easy. And I’m in awe and thankful when I see the amazing ways God answers my sometimes fleeting, needy prayers.

Do you take the admonition to pray about everything to heart too? What’s been your experience?

 He’s closer to you than breath, loves you, and cares for you.

Love,

Sally

Amazon’s Author Page for The Stonekeepers

Embraceable You

Little brothers~

I’m a hugger. Like my dad, I love people.

When I hug someone, once in a while there’s a little confusion as to where each of us will place our arms.

Sometimes it gets funny. But no matter what, there’s always a smile going on as we settle into a brief, warm hug that whispers of caring.

Did you know that there’s apparently a science to the action of hugging? I’d heard of it but hadn’t paid much attention to it until I decided to write this post.

Go here to find the fun wikiHow hug website. It shows you—with accompanying drawings—just how to hug everyone . . . properly!

It made me smile and even laugh out loud at some of the cute demos, though it still didn’t show me if there’s a preferred way to put my arms around someone. ☺

Sisters~

Now if you want to get all scientific . . . when you hug, there’s a release of oxytocin, the “cuddle hormone” that makes us feel good, and then there’s the stress hormone, cortisol that’s reduced, which is a good thing. No in-depth study here, but I’m sure there are probably more good things that happen, like endorphins . . . maybe more.

But when He made us, God knew we just needed love (plus, the oxytocin and cortisol were His ideas in the first place!).

Don’t ever stop embracing one another. It’s so important to show love and that’s just one small way to say “I love you” or “I think you’re a really wonderful person” or “I truly appreciate our friendship” or “I’m so sorry for your loss” or “I’m so happy to see you.” I may feel all the love, care and compassion in the world, but unless I tell you or show you, you might never know that I feel that way.

You can blow all the air kisses you want to, but love or just sweet friendship shown in a hug is incomparable.

Here’s some of what the Word has to say about embracing others,
like your Relatives:

Family~

“Then it came to pass, when Laban heard the report about Jacob his sister’s son,
that he ran to meet him, and embraced him and kissed him, and brought him to his house.
So he told Laban all these things” (Genesis 29:13).

Brothers: “But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck
and kissed him, and they wept” (Genesis 33:4).

Fathers and sons: “Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see.
Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them” (Genesis 48:10).

Spouse: “His left hand is under my head, and
his right hand embraces me” (Song of Solomon 2:6). Disciples/Friends: “After the uproar had ceased, Paul called the disciples to
himself, embraced them, and departed to go to Macedonia” (Acts 20:1).

Bye, Grandpa.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35 NKJV).

Hugs are small and free and warm and loving and one way to obey that commandment.

How do you feel about hugs?

LoveSally

Forgive

I’ll Miss You

The school day was over, and the last of the kids were pushing through the double doors, racing into the freedom of the warm afternoon. My arms ached from lugging a heavy cardboard box down the hall from my classroom to the exit. Still holding onto to the box, I leaned against the wall where I was to wait for my mother to pick me up.

In grade school, eight or nine years old, I was horse-crazy and had begged to take my cherished collection of horses to school for “show and tell” that day. Probably against her better judgment, my mother had finally relented. Two of my favorite bronze horses were tucked inside the box, one posed for show, and the one I loved most, posed in full western regalia. That horse was a replica of how I wanted a horse of my own to look someday.

The minutes slid by in that quiet hallway like sand through my fingers. Mom was late and I was getting anxious. There were only the echoes of a few distant adult voices, and believing the horses would be safe for a few minutes, I lowered the weighty box to the floor and ran outside to look for her.

Neither our car nor Mom were anywhere in sight and I couldn’t leave my horses any longer. I tore back into the hallway, breathless.

I stopped, shocked and disbelieving, and stared at the floor where the box had been.

I don’t remember tears or anger—only numb disbelief. I searched everywhere. I’m sure I must have asked a few people still in the building, but I was too shy to do more. Mom tried to help, but my horses were gone . . . forever gone.

The memory of that day had faded until one dark early morning many years later. Grown, married with two children, my husband was working a night shift. It was around 3:30 when I awoke, and vivid images began to unreel through my mind. I watched. I listened. And God spoke to my heart.

Until that morning, I hadn’t thought of my beautiful bronze horses as being stolen, or that there had even been a thief at all. I couldn’t think about what happened; it was too painful. I’d felt nothing except guilt, carelessness, self-blame, and horrible regret that I couldn’t change what happened.

The Lord walked with me back through the hurt and the memories, but then, into a challenge.

God showed me a new pain. The pain of another, the thief who’d stolen my horses.

I needed to forgive. My horses were gone because another stole them, and that “other” needed my forgiveness right now. Would I forgive?

I’d pushed my own pain away so long ago—I’d forgotten—but never forgiven. Could I?

The Lord had forgiven me, how could I not forgive?

And I forgave.

And I let go of my treasured collection.

But that was not the end of things, only a beginning. There was another memory.

I was in my teens. We were moving across the country. There had been no choice. Cindy, my beautiful chestnut mare, and the love of my young life, Stardust—my Dusty, a yearling filly, had to be sold. Again, I can’t remember anger or tears, only a massive, empty sadness, numbness and disbelief. I resigned myself to the unchangeable, and to relieve the pain, I could only turn away and forget.

“You have more to forgive.”

“Whom must I forgive, Lord?” But I knew the answer:

My father and my mother for the changes they chose—no—changes that they had to make.

And I forgave them.

Strange how unforgiveness, when it isn’t even merited, only creates a wound within the one who fails to forgive. Strange how you can go on through life never realizing that there is a deep need to forgive. Wondrous how God, in His love, reveals and heals within dimensions of your soul that you didn’t know existed.

But there was still more.

“Do you love them more than Me?

“My Cindy and Dusty, Lord?”

“Will you trust them to Me?”

This was the hardest of all. I still loved them. Yes, they were gone, but they were part of me. “I will bring them to You.”

And for long moments, I sat propped up against my pillows and let the burning tears come.

And, I let them go, able to miss and love them from the perspective of where I stood, and now stand.

“There is one more thing for you to do.”

I know what it is. He has lifted my bowed head and searched the depths of my soul.

“I . . . forgive . . . me, Lord.”

Held until His peace filled my spirit and infused every fiber of my being, I felt God’s reassuring arms around me.

“None of these things happened outside My will for your life.”

“I love nothing, no one, more than You, Lord.”

“I Forgive You.”

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Romans 8:26).

“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:14-15).

“So when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me more than these?” (John 21:15a).

“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

Deep healing happened in those moments that early morning.

Have you loved and lost and forgiven and let go?

You are God’s child, and greatly loved.

Please share your story.

Love,

Sally

All scripture is from the New King James Version of the Bible

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beyond Reason

I’m in my late teens, young and new at motherhood. My precious baby girl has scratched her cheek, and this morning I need to trim her tiny fingernails again. She’s four months old and so adorable, smiling and cooing at me.

Fresh from her bath, the scent of baby powder and lotion wafts around us. I lean down to nuzzle the softness of the sweet cuddly place between her neck and shoulder before I slip clean clothes on her.

We carry on our usual fun mommy/baby dialogue as I secure her on her changing table, all buckled up. A wiggly, lively baby, she’s a challenge to me to care for. I pick up the small nail scissors to cut my little one’s fingernails.

She’s in constant motion and curious when I take her little hand in mine and begin to trim those tiny nails.

Then—the unthinkable.

Feet, and legs and hands and arms move all at once, and before I can stop, the scissors slice into her tender flesh. Blood trickles from her little finger, dripping onto her white shirt. I stare down at the cut on her finger in disbelief.

Her instant cries pierce my heart.

Oh, dear God, I’ve hurt my child.

Appalled, my heart twists into an unrelenting ache. I run to the bathroom for a cloth and bandages, prayers on my lips, her wails echoing in my ears . . .

Please, heavenly Father, no!

I race back to her side.

Something has changed.

She’s suddenly quiet. I reach for her hand to rinse the blood away, but step back, and my eyes search for what is no longer there.

There’s no trace of the crimson blood that covered her fingertip and ran down her hand. There are no droplets of blood staining her now snow-white shirt, nor is there evidence of the cut on her finger. I’m stunned.

I continue to search for a piece of red thread or a scrap of red cloth, anything to give me a reasonable, logical explanation. But the more I look the more in awe I become. Thankfulness slowly replaces doubt and the ache in my heart eases.

There’s nothing red, there is no blood anywhere.

Looking up at me, cheeks still wet with tears, sweet baby sounds bubble from my little one. And through my tears of joy, I undo the confining straps of the changing table and scoop her up into my arms.

This is beyond reason, beyond logic, and I stand, holding her close, humbled, overjoyed at the power of God, thanking him over and over for what he has done—for answering my prayers.

There is no other explanation.

When I stood beside my infant daughter, searching in disbelieving wonder for evidence of blood and injury that was no longer there, I stood on ground as holy as the ground on which Moses stood at the burning bush.

Where have you experienced holy ground? As believers in Christ Jesus, it is not beyond any of us.

“The centurion answered and said, ‘Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof. But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed’” (Matthew 8:8 NKJV).

“Then Jesus answered and said to her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28 NKJV).

Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us,
But to Your name give glory,
Because of Your mercy,
Because of Your truth.
Psalm 115:1

Sticks and Stones

I’m honored to have writer, speaker, teacher, and friend, Jeanne Doyon, guest-posting on Everyone Has A Story this week. Jeanne’s post holds a message that every woman needs to hear and begins with a saying most all of us know by heart . . .

Jeanne writes:

Sticks and stones

. . . will break my bones but names will never hurt me.

Do you remember chanting this in self-defense as a child? I do and I need to tell you, it’s a lie!

For years I struggled with #insecurity—feeling ugly and awkward because I wore eyeglasses as a little girl. That may sound like an exaggeration now, but when fueled by other’s words it wasn’t then. I learned all about sticks and stones and experienced the hidden wounds they caused.

I began wearing glasses as a nine-year old and had a gym teacher who called me unkind names like, four-eyed-monkey-face. In junior-high my science teacher announced to the class that girls with glasses would never be asked out on dates.

I know; I’d like to give them a piece of my mind too!

Every little girl struggles with self-image and these callous comments only solidified the truth I saw when I looked in the mirror. I never seemed to measure up to the beauty I saw in others.

Years later as a young mother, I grew in my faith and relationship with God. During my prayer time one afternoon I sensed Him say, I love you and you’re beautiful—even your glasses. I have no idea where this came from, but as His words washed over my heart, I began to sob. Then a peace I can’t explain filled me as I sat in His presence.

God is such a gracious Father. I experienced healing that day and began a journey of seeing myself through God’s eyes rather than the eyes of others—a journey that continues to this day.

The older I get my past becomes clearer. The healing of my hurtful memories is part of learning who I am as a child of God. As I discover more about Him, He shows me more about myself and other areas that need His healing touch.

We all have events in our past that have roots to our present struggles. As we spend time in God’s presence, praying and listening, seeking Him through His word, then He uncovers hidden things and brings our brokenness into the light. Healing is the result.

As we share our story, others are encouraged and God is glorified. Romans 8:28’s truth of all things working for our good becomes a reality. Instead of the hurts being for harm, they become redemptive through the healing ways of God.

Everything that God has done for me gives hope to share with another person who struggles with a similar hurt. When I’m willing to share my brokenness, I’ll see His redemptive results. As I walk the path toward Christ-likeness, transparent about where I have come from, others will see an imperfect vessel touched by the Spirit of God.

Only Jesus Christ can heal and bring wholeness to our past. His desire is for our best and to take the areas of weakness and give us His strength. In our broken world Jesus offers healing for our heart through His Spirit who makes all things new.

The sticks and stones may have made their mark but the healing we find in Christ is transformative because of the wounds he bore on our behalf. The hurt doesn’t define us—it frees us to become all He has for us through the redemptive power of His life broken for us.

How has Jesus ministered to your broken places? Have you experienced His redemptive power?

Jeanne

Previously published on The Stream’s Edge, shared with permission.

About Jeanne Doyon:

Jeanne Doyon loves encouraging others to draw nearer to the Lover of their souls. She connects the Truths in Scripture to the ordinary events of life and shares her reflections on her blog at http://www.streams-edge.blogspot.com. Jeanne enjoys photography, tea with friends, creating with beads and looks forward to being a grandma. She and her husband, John enjoy their empty nest but wish their children weren’t so far away. Email Jeanne at jeanne.doyon@gmail.com and find out more about her speaking topics at http://www.jeannedoyon.blogspot.com

I love this quote from Jeanne’s speakers blog “. . . I am embracing what it means to balance living boldly for Him with complete dependence upon Him.”

Thanks, Jeanne, for sharing your heart, your story, and your encouragement with us.

“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones” (Proverbs 16:24 NKJV).