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  

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Crossroads

It’s early. I hop out of bed feeling great after of a good night’s rest. A whole fresh new day is ready to walk into.

All is well,

until . . .

What mess?

I walk into the kitchen and find the mess . . . again. How many times . . .?

And no, the pup didn’t do it.

How quick and easy the glowery dark cloud descends with its storm of anger and frustration. So much for the higher functions of my cerebral cortex. They nosedive into a worse mess than the small, irritating one in the kitchen.

I should go back to bed! I need a do-over.

I don’t get angry often and when I do, it’s a quiet, internalized “mad.” I’m not the confronting, haranguing type. Maybe I should be.

I go outside. In my PJs. Pace the concrete sidewalk. Complain a while, then pull in breaths of the cool morning air and pray.

It helps, but when I go inside and settle into a devotional time, the Lord opens His Word. I pray and open my Bible at random (but in this Hand-in-hand walk we’re on, there’s no such thing as “random”). It falls open to Jonah, chapter four, verse four.

My eyes land on this “Then the Lord said, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah’s answer was to go make himself a shelter, sit in its shade, and watch to see what would happen to the city. My answer is to ask, Why shouldn’t I be? But He makes me think.

To shorten Jonah’s story, the great city of Nineveh had devolved into a wickedness that the Lord could no longer tolerate. As His prophet, Jonah was to go and warn that city to repent, or be thrown down. And Jonah didn’t want to obey—he ran.

Jonah ended up having a whale of an adventure, literally, and doing exactly what the Lord told him to do. But when the people of Nineveh ended up being sorry and humbled themselves, God saw and relented. Jonah was not happy and wanted the city punished . . . which was why he was angry. Plus, he was probably tired, a little chewed up from being in a whale belly and all. Not to mention being worn out since it took him three days to walk through the huge city with the warnings. This time Jonah sat under a shady plant that the Lord provided.

So, I’m a little like Jonah sitting under the shade-giving plant that dies, only I pace the sidewalk and grumble, a lot.

There are many more comparisons and angles in Jonah’s story. We all have different levels of how we express anger and how we deal with it.

I’m reminded of my relationship not only with God, but to God.

In Genesis 1:26a it’s written “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.”

We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made . . . in God’s image, according to His likeness.

Yes, things anger me—but like Him, I can be slow to anger, allow for compassion, give myself time to think, and try not to “sweat the small stuff” as my brother likes to say.

God created Jonah with the capacity for compassion for the plant that shaded Jonah. God created us with the same capacity.

The Lord had compassion for Nineveh. He knows every detail of my “mess,” and I can use some compassion and love and understanding. With the Lord’s help, I can talk with the mess-perpetrator again. Maybe things will change . . . or maybe I’ll just get better about not sweating the small stuff.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” James 1:19 NKJV

How do you handle your anger?

Love,

Sally

Amazon Author Page for The Stonekeepers

 

Be of Good Courage

The hallway of the nursing home settles into a soft hum of lessening noise with residents getting ready for bed.

A child of God, a woman, sits in her wheelchair, bound up in sadness and loneliness, her countenance etched with fear and tears. Head bowed, chin-to-chest, slender fingers white as she grasps the arms of her chair.

She rarely leaves her dim, quiet room and feels secure only within their enclosing walls. But Light shines through another, an old man with a snowy-white beard. He rolls his wheelchair down the hall and pauses at the open doorway of the woman’s room.

He doesn’t notice as a nurse motions for the aide with her not to interfere. But the two stand and watch as he slowly maneuvers through the doorway and stops alongside the woman, facing her.

For a moment, he simply sits quietly. Then he touches her arm.

His gentle hand stays in place as his still-sweet tenor voice permeates the silence and births music. A song swells from the depths of his heart and fills the room, chases out shadows, melts away loneliness.

Darkness lifts and vanishes before the Light.

Loneliness and isolation had covered a soul with the wide, black brush-stroked paint of fear.

Unpretentious love casts the radiance of His Light to bring moments of comfort—and a tenuous smile.

Two children of age, transformed by time’s passage, one drawn to the other through the heart’s essence of compassion.

Uninhibited, innocent love and mercy pour from a heart where Jesus lives.

♥♥
The nurses where my father stayed for a while shared the woman’s fears and described to me how they’d watched and what they’d seen as Dad visited her room.

In spite of his own suffering from Alzheimer’s and dementia, he found a way to comfort her through the one gift he could give—a song.

♥♥

A tender song, a heartfelt prayer, a soft touch to a fearful or suffering child of God—if you give those small gifts, how do you know you aren’t bringing the Light of Christ into the world of another?
Watch for what God is doing. Heed the tiny urges to “go” and “do” that you sense in your spirit.

So, go there and do that, and don’t look back. Be encouraged in the knowledge that you’ve entered a dimension where God’s listening children work with Him Hand-in-hand.

Dad loved roses.

“Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

“And David said to his son Solomon, ‘Be strong and of good courage, and do it; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God—my God—will be with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you, until you have finished all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.'” 1 Chronicles 28:20

Love,

Sally

Are You Ready?

It’s a balmy, Florida Christmas Eve. I close the office early so everyone can go home to be with family.

Me too . . . eventually . . . but not before I get some last minute shopping done.

 ♥

I stand alone at the jewelry counter as the sales woman finishes up with another customer. I’ve hunted for weeks, and the pretty bracelet I look at is perfect for Deb. Now, I’m anxious to get home, to finish wrapping, baking, and getting ready for Christmas Day’s excitement.

“Oh!” I stiffen as something smooths across my foot!

Time takes a coffee break, and I squelch another yelp as the sensation suddenly moves up my ankle.

Imagination says it’s a snake, logic says otherwise—it feels like a hand. Impossible. Do I dare move?

Fear freaks me into a stone pillar as a voice wafts up from the vicinity of the tile beneath my feet and says “You have stockings on!”

I wrench in a breath and look behind me. A Jack-in-the-Box couldn’t have surprised me more than the young boy who jumps up from the floor. He looks to be thirteen or fourteen years old, is neatly dressed, and is nearly my height. His big brown eyes study me from behind wire-rimmed glasses. His left eye is badly crossed.

I see his innocence and I’m in instant prayer for him. He’s intellectually disabled. Maybe he thought I was a mannequin?

Fear melts. “Yes, I have stockings on.”

His eyes trail down to gaze at the small gold cross hanging from my necklace. He literally jumps, his eyes widen and move to meet mine. “I didn’t know you were a Christian!”

“Yes, I am. Do you know Jesus too?” I put my hand on his shoulder and let it linger a moment, as I tell him I love Jesus.

He leans close. “Where do you go to church?”And I tell him of the big brick church downtown, and that I’m a Methodist.

His brown skin shines. A wide grin spreads across his face. He repeats the word “Methodist” several times, rolls it over his tongue, savors it, pronounces it carefully. “And you say your prayers too?”

I nod. “I say my prayers too.”

And we talk for a while. Just he and me. About things important to him. Like Jesus. And saying prayers. Things that come from his heart.

Until he turns away . . .

Merrily and loudly he repeats the word “Methodist” as he moves toward the exit. And then he’s gone.

No one is with him that I can see, but there are those nearby who watch as I come away from this encounter and walk more fully into Christmas.

It’s always like being in the world alone with one other, just the two of us, until it’s time to part.

You have them, too, these God-centered, God-engineered, appointments.

I try to watch for them, try to be ready for them, but always, they surprise me, and leave me with an afterglow of joy. Every time.Are you ready? Ready for those moments when God places his children in your space? For reasons you may never really understand?

“God wants us to be present where we are. He invites us to see and to hear what is around us and, through it all, to discern the footprints of the Holy.” Richard Foster

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18a)

“Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:19).

“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another”(1 John 4:11).

 ♥

☺ I know it’s only April and that Christmas is months away. But last week a title and this post, a little out of sync, dropped into my heart and mind, so I wrote it down—for future reference—of course. And then the word, “ready” popped up again, stuck around, and kept asking what I was waiting for . . .  So that’s why you’re reading about Christmas in April. ☺

Love,

Sally

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

The Driver’s Day

The morning is bright and cool as the scent of fall wafts through the open sunroof. On her way to an early appointment, The Driver has her tunes playing and she’s loving the solitude.

. . . Until a sight on the side of the road goes against the grain of normal and makes her look twice.

The woman she just passed was—
Really? Trying to hitch a ride?

No. Can’t be. Not safe these days.

But a glance into the rear view mirror reflects the young woman, her thumb waving in the air, and she isn’t alone.

The double-take restarts The Driver’s day with head-shaking wonder over the nudge to do something.

You’re kidding, Lord! Turn around, go back, and pick up that young woman and her two children?

The Driver’s not in the habit of giving strangers rides. Besides, her car is too small. She’ll be late. And what if the woman needs more than a ride . . .
Her excuses pelt down like rain.

She glides past, the mind-poking irritation turning into curiosity and compassion that has her turning her small two-door coupe around a block and a half later.

Surely someone will have picked them up by the time she gets back there.

But, no. This is still hers to do.

Emergency blinkers and right hand signal clicking away, she pulls over to the curb. With a prayer, The Driver shakes her head again, plasters on a brave, like-I-do-this-everyday smile, and opens the car door, motioning for the woman and her two children to get in.

There’s hustle and bustle and back packs and the fresh scent of scrubbed clean, smiling little faces, as “mom” wedges her two children into the cramped back seat and sits in the passenger seat.

“How far are you going? Where?”

Ann introduces herself. The gutsy, determined, scrappy mother of three (there’s a baby at home) had been right out there on the edge of the busy road during morning rush hour—thumbing!

She was absolutely going to get all of them to school—her two children to the local Christian Academy and herself to the community college—one way or the other.

The Driver, whose chin is still on the floorboards at this mama-thumber, learns that Ann is a Christian and full of a diamond-in-the-rough faith. Ann shares that her husband, who is taking care of the baby, is fresh-out of a rehab for drug problems, has no job, and she may give him another chance.

She wants so much more for herself and her family that not even lack of transportation will stand in her way—and she openly thanks God and The Driver for today’s ride.

The Driver, not so openly, thanks God too, for His nudge to do this thing.

What a wonder to meet someone so determined to pull herself up and out of her current circumstances.

Ann will make it. She’s diamond, gold, and granite. A rock in the midst of the swirl and growth and change in her world.

Ann says she’ll walk from here, but The Driver will have none of that and waits while Ann walks her children to the school doors and returns for her ride to the last stop . . . the community college campus.

It’s been a long time since Ann and her children were passengers in The Driver’s little car. Once in a while, The Driver gets to find out what happened to those she’s encountered. Not this time. But it’s good to think about that heavenly urging and to pray that Ann and her little ones had a good life, maybe even the one Ann envisioned for them all that bright autumn morning.

 ♥

I recently read that we should be praying and watching and looking for the things God is doing and asking Him if and how we might join Him to help. A little different than coming up with our own ideas of serving/helping/volunteering, isn’t it?

Some time after thinking about The Driver’s encounter and writing this post, I came to another reading. In My Utmost for His Highest for February 28: “We are not told to walk in the light of conscience or of a sense of duty, but to walk in the light as God is in the light. When we do anything from a sense of duty, we can back it up by argument; when we do anything in obedience to the Lord, there is no argument possible . . .”

It’s good when our “arguments” quickly fall by the wayside.

“For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:4-5 NKJV).

Are you paying attention to the nudges you have that you just know that you know are from God?

Love,

Sally

Journey Into Joy

. . . so what is joy?

A feeling? an emotion? A sense that all is right with the world that we sometimes experience?

I think all of these.

But joy dives deep into our God-created being.

Joy reshapes expressions on faces. Joy flows from an artist’s brush, a vocalist’s solo. a musician’s instrument, or a little boy’s toy piano.

Joy makes your heart beat faster, sweeps you up into dancing, and hand-clappping and jumping for joy.

Joy fashions happy tears and frames itself in hugs that say “I love you too.” It’s in the tears that come while you’re reading or watching a scene so tender it literally squeezes those tears out of your heart of hearts.

Joy walks with you into a room to pray for another’s recovery, and though hundreds of others have prayed too, when he’s made whole again, just maybe you had a little part in God’s awesome answer.

Joy is laughter within a loving family with whom you simply revel in being near.

Joy is a good stretch after a sound night’s sleep.

Joy is bursting upward through the deepest of depths and finding God’s been with you through the entire scary trip.Joy is your best friend calling to sing Happy Birthday all the way through and wishing you the best year ever.

Joy is feeling better after you’ve felt so terrible.

Joy is walking a quiet trail with moss underfoot and wildflowers brushing your arms as you pass.

Joy is serving communion and seeing Jesus in the eyes of those who love Him.

Joy is stroking a service dog in training knowing one day she will lead instead of being led.

Joy is a long, unhurried hug from a three-year-old, her little arms around your neck and her sweet head nestled against your shoulder, that’s like no other hug, ever.Joy is knowing that you know you are beloved by your heavenly Father and are kept for everlasting life by Jesus and have a Helper, the Holy Spirit, forever.

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, JOY, peace . . .” Galatians 3: 22

The dimensions and definitions of JOY are beyond number, but can you add a few more of your own?
I’d love for you to share them in a comment.


“Now may the God of hope fill you with all JOY and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

Love,

Sally

All scripture verses are from The New King James Version of the Bible