… kissing frogs…

I have always been gullible…

… as the second oldest of nine children, I imagined myself as Cinderella when piles of laundry covered the floor on Monday, and I would iron for days. I spent many hours dreaming of kissing a frog… he would turn into a prince and take me away on his horse.  I half-way expected to find a little green frog hiding in a pile of dirty jeans. (The Frog Prince, a German fairy tale published in Grimm’s Fairy Tales in 1812)

And one day… it happened.

How did I know? It was in church, and I leaned over to my best friend and said, “I am going to marry that guy.” I was 16; he was 17.

I am not sure the moment Tom Suiter became a handsome prince. Perhaps the process of becoming has been over these 57 years. In a college speech class in the 80s, I was to make a seven minute argument or persuasion. We had been married 19 years, so I decided to persuade everyone marriage was a good idea.  Points were deducted as I went over the time limit four minutes, but I received a standing ovation. An avowed ‘single for lifer’ stood and shouted with hands raised, “I want to be married… to Tom!”

Tom grinned and reminded me this morning that the ‘frog’ was a prince in disguise. You know the story, the prince had been turned into a frog for punishment, until the unlikely event that a princess would kiss him and release the spell. Perhaps ‘my  kiss’… my commitment to trust this frog prince, to love him with unconditional love has freed him to become more fully the man he was designed to be.  His life verse expresses his princehood: “Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day, I declare Your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.” Psalm 71: 17,18.

“And they lived happily ever after…”

For sure, that is a fairly tale folly. Marriage is the hardest work you will ever do… this is the one truth Tom and I warn couples we have counseled over the years. Changes come, mistakes are made, heart break happens, tears flow, but it is the doing life together in the pain that makes the days possible. As Ruth Graham, wife of Billy Graham says, marriage, a good marriage, is a union of two good forgivers.

My parents divorced when I was 17; Tom’s divorced when he was 30. Where did we learn how to be married? We had had no mentors, no loving counsel, no preparation to make a good marriage a reality.

But we had a dream, a commitment to succeed.  I have no idea where that came from, other than I am a hopeless romantic, simply too naïve, a believer in fairy tales… and we both trusted a God who declares…  “Haven’t you read,” Jesus replied, “that at the beginning the Creator made them male and female, and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” Matthew 19:4-6

“In the arithmetic of love, one plus one equals everything and two minus one equals nothing.”  Mignon McLaughlin

In our early years, I read every magazine article I found on marriage as few books were available.  Reader’s Digest included the topic of marriage in most monthly editions. Ladies’ Home Journal had a most interesting section, Can this Marriage be Saved?  These were secular, and I was determined to understand my Prince.

“The real act of marriage takes place in the heart, not in the ballroom or church or synagogue. It is a choice you make on your wedding day, and over and over again and that choice is reflected in the way you treat your husband.” Barbara DeAngelis

Today, my prince continues to treat me as his princess…

Tom always reads my blog drafts and gives advice. He is not comfortable being the topic for this one… I would be the topic if he were writing this, he said.  So I am ending with his words, his gift he presented me on our 50th anniversary.

… kissing the prince…these 57 years.

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… puzzled…

… puzzled…

“This piece is not here. I know it’s missing. I have tried every piece of the same color.” Tom and I were convinced several times of this truth as we worked a puzzle last week.

We began a puzzle Valentine’s day—a diversion to change routine and see visible progress on these days filled with sameness. All the straight edge pieces found their place on the table without much difficulty.

We decided quickly it had been more fun walking the streets of Hallstatt, Austria, lunching in cozy cafes, cooling off in ancient dark churches. Certainly putting a thousand pieces of Hallstatt in perfect order would be a challenge.

There were so..oooo many shades of blues and greens, you know, just a tiny difference; at times, completing this appeared impossible… hopeless. We almost dumped it back in the box one day; we had reached an impasse. We found no way to proceed in one section.  It was then I ‘felt’ with gentle touching… ever so carefully, and discovered that one of us had placed two pieces almost identical in shade and shape in wrongly. They just didn’t work. That one error kept the whole next line from fitting together.

Amazing…

Webster defines puzzle… are you ready for this?  More than 40 words, either nouns or verbs, are synonyms for puzzle. From astonished, bewildered, confusion, mystery, riddle, tangle, maze, issue, question, perplexed…  uncertain, mystified, ambiguity, paradox. Shall I list more? I like this one: to exercise one’s mind, as over a problem.

All these words sound like life to me. It’s all such an enigma.

What happens when the pieces just don’t fit? When I want to throw away what I began. When I’m convinced the right piece is missing…

I awoke in the middle of the night this week… puzzled. Issues in our family discourage me, uncertainties in the world bewilder me, causing questions and confusion. I am perplexed  as in which direction I should go in this maze.

A  thought whispered in the dark, “When your spirit grows faint within you; when you are overwhelmed, it is I who know your way.” I pondered this verse in every translation. (Psalm 142:3

These are the very words David prayed when he was in the cave at Adullam. This future king of Israel was running for his life, forced into a cave. The Hebrew word translated faint or overwhelmed means muffled… as to cover with a garment—covered with darkness. David could not see a solution, he had no heart to try.

But the Lord knew…

David was caught in a tangled web. He had no idea which way to go, but he affirms… it is You, Lord, who know my way.

The puzzle is answered; it is complete; it is finished. He knows the way. When I am…  when you are… overwhelmed, and in the dark, when faint… when the pieces of life don’t fit together. “It is You who know my way…”

He has the perfect piece of the puzzle…

Everyone gets cave time says Ray Noah. https://raynoah.com/2018/03/30/everybody-gets-cave-time-3/ Maybe we need the cave these weeks to find the right piece to the uncertainties of life. God can do his best work in the cave.  After all, David became King of Israel soon after these very dark moments.

There is no way Tom and I could have begun this puzzle without the picture on the box . How would we have known what went where? How could we have seen how colors changed without warning…

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105

“I am the way, and the truth and the life,” Jesus answers. John 14:6

… a peace in the puzzle…

 

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… connecting…

The weather here in southwest Tennessee has been dreary, cold and gray for days. Perhaps that’s the reason for this longing of past days. Or the lack of hugs in the isolation and lock down.  Whatever it is, I am missing every one of you.

I have heard there are two kinds of people: those who connect slowly and disconnect quickly or those who connect quickly and disconnect  slowly. What about those who never disconnect?  That would be me. I want to hold tight to every sweet memory I have of you— never letting go.

And for sure, that is not possible, but if I could, I would.  And this Valentine’s weekend, I am remembering all the banquets I cooked at our church in Kingsport, Tennessee. What perfectly, wonderful fun times. And then all the dinners in our homes… wherever we lived at the time… for Valentine love feasts.  The dinners in Vienna shared with internationals from around the world will forever bring joy.

I remember the time Tom resigned from our very first church; we sat on the porch that Sunday afternoon and cried.  He said, “If I had known leaving is this hard, I think we should  stay.”

Then we would not have ventured to parts of the world and met you. Today, I counted the different houses and places we have lived since we married 57 years ago… would you believe 23?

Every move, every place brought someone special into our lives. We loved quickly. What a sad day when we said good-bye to the Vienna United Nations Bible study group in August 2008. A sweet friend from India softly said, “We just knew you loved us, Barb.” And so I did.  It is difficult to turn lose when you love fiercely.

“Dear Friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God… I John 4:7.  Dear friends, since God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” V 11-12.

I often say memory is one of God’s essential gifts to us. How poor we would be without the joy of remembering each other. This Valentine’s I pray you are blessed with special memories of those you love and have loved. And for you, my unknown reader, I am sure I would love you.

Tom is my first and forever romantic Valentine, of course, but this day, I am thinking of each of you. “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy…” Philippians 1:3

I can’t be too homesick… I have you in my heart.

 

 

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… a redo …?

Wow… the first page of the 2021 calendar is now a memory.  How quickly January  vanished. One day at a time, gone. Whatever happened… those events in our control or not, can never be undone.  We can’t turn the calendar back…

There is no redo…

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would send a short video for a friend celebrating her 70th birthday. I labored over that request, making sure every word was special, to let her know my heart for our friendship in years past.

Each time I pushed the record button, tears stopped the flow of words. I longed for a redo… a let’s do a part of this relationship over again. We’ve all been here… wanting to  take back words and opinions. Or the unsolicited advice we easily offered.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to know ‘then’ what we know NOW?  If every word, every thought and attitude, every action or reaction were stamped with well done?  How beautiful the world would be if we were born knowing:  “A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.”  Proverbs 25:11. Or “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life.” Proverbs 15:4

I plead for a redo…

A pileated woodpecker hammered breakfast from a dead limb near my window this morning.  He attacked the home of those carpenter ants vigorously; he was going to enjoy his labors. It was the debris falling from his strong taps that caused me to question how words and opinions, often spoken in haste, leave hurt behind.  There is no delete button…

How precious is God’s forgiveness… over and over and over. We receive the gift of forgiveness daily, often hourly. So why do memories of our words or actions resurface? I believe this happens in order for us to remember and remember again God’s forgiveness.  Because of this, I… you, can live every day in constant gratefulness for this amazing gift.

And we are to give this same forgiveness to those who hurt us.

“Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Matthew 18:21-22. (Some translations say seventy times seven… wow… that’s 490.) The idea is we cannot keep a record, because we forgive and forgive and forgive—too numerous to count.

This beautiful sunrise yesterday stunned me into a new realization of God’s promise of His love and mercies, new every morning (Lamentations 3:23). The promise of another day speaks, not of a redo—but another chance to do… to be… “Be kind and compassionate to one another. Forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

What a gift I can give this Valentine’s.

 

 

 

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… in comfort…

“Baked potatoes are my comfort food,” I uttered to myself as I inspected potatoes in the bin at our local Spar in Vienna, Austria, years ago.  A lady nearby, understood my quiet English, and said quickly, “I have never heard that expression; what is a comfort food?”

If you can find the author of the blog… confined… but free…, please flog her for me. How naïve, gullible, or just plain foolish she is.

I need a baked potato…

In this pandemic, the absence of friends’ touch and the  loss of sweet community, cause the days to settle into a sameness that stifles even a Polly Anna’s spirit. Fear paralyzes my trust. Anticipation for tomorrow’s joy is silenced before a day is over.

A whisper jolted me into reality early one  morning. “Barb, let not your heart be troubled…” It was so gentle, so kind. There was no condemnation, only His whispered presence near me.  I read John 14 then, longing to hear more assurance. “Life is too challenging these days, Father; pain and heartache are everywhere.”

I listen… there comes a quiet, but strong command, shattering the cold darkness… trust me.  I looked at the names in my journal … the heartbroken ones, those with tears… my children, my grandchildren, health, America, friends, the future … the same soft words could be heard… trust me, trust me…

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know Your name will trust in You, for You, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Psalm 9:10,11

I followed this thought … Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” Psalm 20:7

Hum–m… those who know His name will trust— What does it mean to know His name?

I have taught young women for years to know your man… study him, suggesting they become aware of one new trait, a special characteristic, a fun fact… every day.  Is that possible? After almost fifty-seven years, I am learning something  new today about Tom Suiter.

But you know what? With all that knowledge of knowing Tom… his character, his ways, his words, I trust him with my life. As a young wife, I am not sure how much I trusted him, but as I began to know him, to learn ‘what made him tick’, my trust became strong. All the things I know about him are wrapped up in his name. I say Thomas Swift with great respect, love… and trust.

So it is with knowing God… learning His ways, His character, His attributes, His words … insures we know His name. Does that mean He will mend every broken part of our/your family? That He will solve every painful area in your life or mine? It means He is here…today.

NOW…
“Because she loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue her; I will protect her, for she acknowledges My name. She will call upon Me, and I will answer her, I will be with her in trouble, I will deliver her and honor her…” Psalm 91:14,15  (pronouns personalized, mine).

These days, I often forget how to trust. I admit the world is too much with me. I encourage you to join me as we know His name… to learn something new every day about this Creator God who loves us much. As we trust His Name… We can trust that He, and He alone, is our comfort and our peace.

Trust is being confident God is still here, present in this pain, and He will be here tomorrow, regardless of what happens. Whispers on the Journey, pg 67. (you can order one on Amazon!) I wrote those words years ago when difficult times came.

No, I don’t need a baked potato…

I need to renew strong trust  in Jesus’ words…  listen…”Peace, I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

 

 

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… reflecting…

This past Saturday morning I was wishing for the second day of Christmas. That’s what the day after Christmas is called in Austria, and it is a calendar holiday. There are several stories of its beginning in Europe, but it’s believed alms boxes in the Church as early as the 1600s were given to the poor that day.  Years later, Victorians named it Boxing Day; a day when the more affluent gave boxes of leftover food, money or other gifts to servants and trades people… to those who had provided good service throughout the year.

The day had nothing to do with Boxing, but all to do with acts of kindness and charity.  What a novel idea, indeed? Today the day after Christmas is considered a shopping or ‘return gifts’ day for most countries who once celebrated this as a giving, selfless day. When we lived In Vienna, it was a quiet, reflective day.

I think this second day of Christmas should be named… Reflection Day… especially this year when there is much to ponder…

I wanted another day of Christmas as the 25th found Tom and me alone with no hopes of celebrating with family.  Perhaps you were alone due to the viral pandemic, as well. I found myself wanting something more… something more joyful, more real, more like Christmases past. Would another day help?

So I reflect…

Yes, you and I know the story of Christmas. The words of Silent Night wrap us in peace.  Or do they? I understand  Emmanuel means “God with us”…

But why… at times, does He feel far away.  Maybe I have lost something these months  of 2020. I just returned this morning from walking, and a neighbor shared that the owner of the many cows surrounding our property and her property died three weeks ago of this virus; he was 60 years old.  Daily texts inform of someone testing positive… some fighting for their lives.

We came very near to losing a sweet son-in-law this summer to the virus.  I still reflect on those 83 days he was in the hospital, struggling for breath. What did I learn? What whispers did I hear from the heart of the Father?

So I reflect… I consider this year… soon to be history.

This scene out my dining window (all made by Tom in his shop) has somehow anchored my thoughts every meal these weeks.  The deer, masked in wood, has become a guide. My eyes go immediately to the star, but then I study the face of this deer.  I notice every day he focuses on the star while he guards the manger. We have had stormy weather, high winds, frigid temperatures. Yet, his gaze has constantly been upward; he has never wavered. Odd, this scene stirs me… causes an examination of my heart, my trust. Often, as I linger with coffee or hot tea, my spirit quietens, and I walk away with peace.

“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you; you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:11,12. What words speak the loudest to you or perhaps, the softest?  While each word and phrase are almost holy, it is the words “to you” in two places that speak so personally to me. He was born ‘to me’ and then I was given a sign, a physical sign that He is real!  What do you do with this truth?  Amazing!

Whatever this year has given and taken away, as difficult as it may be, I must choose to reflect on the lessons learned, the truth understood, and focus on the important, even when tears fall.

“For the rest, sweet brothers and sisters, (italics mine) whatever is true, whatever is worthy of reverence and is honorable and seemly, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely and lovable, whatever is kind and winsome and gracious, if there is any virtue and excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think on, weigh and take account of these things… fix your minds on them.” Philippians 4:8 Amplified Bible

… reflecting…

“What was your best Christmas gift ever as a child?” I asked Tom on Christmas morning.  He smiled and immediately said, “The year I got my first bicycle … now I could go places!”  He told me what that new freedom meant living on the farm.

So we reflected on the places we have gone… and the beautiful people we have met on the way… You have filled our lives with immeasurable joy. My ABC* mind wants to list each one by name… but there are so many of you, I wouldn’t have room on this blog. Thank you for your presence on our journey.  (*check out my book published in July 2020, Whispers on the Journey: A Practical Guide using the ABCs in Prayer and Praise. Amazon.com)

I am going to leave the deer gazing… as a reminder to think on the good, pure, worthy of praise things this past year, and to focus on these in 2021. What about you? Will you join me in a dependency on the object of the star?

When they saw the star, they were filled with joy… they bowed down and worshiped Him. Matthew 2:10,11.

… reflecting…

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…hope… in a changing world…

I remember the snowy night Tom and I bought our first nativity. Woolworth’s was our favorite shopping place as newlyweds, a very popular five and dime store in America until 1997.  I had worked the candy and jewelry counter before we married, and knew of all the different nativity sets available.  After opening every box and inspecting the details and craftsmanship, we chose this one, handmade in Italy.

1964… our first Christmas together.

This year, 2020, as I opened the treasured Christmas containers, it was as if 55 celebrations of this season danced around me.  As I set this particular one in place, I stopped to hear what the donkey and cow sheltered in their stable might say this year. What stories? What memories…

Said the donkey… “I can hear how  excited those four  children were every December, saying, “Oh, I remember this from last year.” He added,  “I can still hear the strong voice of the father as he read our story on Christmas Eve.”  The cow mooed in agreement, thinking how sad the children were the time one of the Wise Men was discovered  broken. They both smiled at the memory of being  lovingly placed each year in the stable by those small hands.

I am sure the donkey and the cow were saddened the year  there were no children exclaiming in joy when the padded box they had been sleeping in was opened. Have they realized life has slowed down; there are less happy, crowded celebrations these past years?

Of course, these are my reflections as I consider these times; no matter the outward changes, I am captivated once again as this silent night comes alive. We have multiple nativity sets and depictions of the birth of the Savior, bought wherever we happened to be or gifted to us from around the world. Each image of the manger scene is culturally different; the African ones are beautiful.  I love every one… from Switzerland, Denmark, Austria, Kenya, Honduras…and this one from Sopron, Hungary. I remember well my feet were almost ice frozen the night we bought this pottery manger  in a small village…

 

… memories…

But it is  our first nativity set that holds and protects every ‘holy-day’ memory in my Christmas bank. As I reflect on the scene in front of me, trying to balance that with the changes around me, I tearfully ask… where have all the Christmases gone? For brief moments these quieter years, I can cry for what is lost, for the pain in saying good-byes, for the questions of the ‘what-ifs’…

“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.” Psalm 13:5

Throughout all the changes in life, I am reminded the account of the nativity has not been altered  in any detail. The story in 1964 is the same as in 2020. How crucial for our faith, how important to know the facts are forever true, never changing.

This particular stable in the picture above is the fourth, or is it the fifth ‘new’ construction Tom has built these 55 years; I have added a sheep or two, and the story survives without the broken third wise man. Each figure continues to speak softly, confidently in our changing world …

Woolworth’s in America is forever gone. (Though I understand this store still operates in Germany and Austria! I wonder if it is the same as I remember in Tennessee.)There are changes for us, yes, every day, every month, but the truth of Christmas is etched forever in our hearts.

These past months of a world wide pandemic, producing fear and anxious moments, have perhaps caused us to lose hope. Whatever  changes or losses you may  experience,  I encourage you to remember… remember that one memory… that binds you to the truth of this greatest message ever given. “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be to all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:10,11.

Hope is paramount in the Christmas  story. These days when I crumble in the chaos of life changing around me… I stop. I remember…  I focus on the hope shouted that silent night, filling heaven with music: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

This year when the nativity scenes are packed away, I will cling to memories, yes, but more than that,  I determine to hold tightly to the truth that the story of Christmas never changes.

… hope… I share this gift with you…

 

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… rambling… in thanks…

One must always ramble in this area of being grateful… all day, every day.  I speak of the meaning of rambling as in … at length and unplanned.

On my morning walk yesterday I began singing as I passed our mailbox with the words give thanks on the  banner. Only I didn’t sing “Give thanks with a grateful heart”. It just came naturally to sing, “Give thanks with a broken heart.” Try it—words and music fit perfectly.

(click on the picture to read the words—and see the cows!)

If we allow our tears to deaden gratefulness, I wonder that we can be thankful at all. There are many things I cannot manage together. Tom always laughs and says I cannot row a boat and talk at the same time.  But I can cry while laughing, and I can dance in the rain.

Tears fall, yes, but I smile with gratefulness to see the birds at the feeder… to hear Christmas music these days. The glorious sunrise joys the moment. I ramble all day, thanking God for His goodness, praising Him in the pain, while the tears flow for life’s hurts.

I think we are all in this place— this pandemic has caused pain and confusion. From A to Z—my November prayer journal runs red with broken hearts and scattered pieces of life. I lay my hands on the names and weep. When I follow up with some, do you know what I always hear?  From Shanghai, Copenhagen, Vienna or Seattle, I can almost hear each one sing, “I… give thanks with a broken heart…”

Many of us can cry these same words from the Psalmist (you feel the anxiousness in the Amplified version). “My life dissolves and weeps itself away for heaviness; raise me up and strengthen me according to the promises of Your word. Chapter 119:28.  Would you believe four verses later, this same writer sings, “I run in the path of Your commands for you have set my heart free.” v32. I believe he observed the morning and rambled in thankfulness, despite the weariness of life.

Henri Nouwen’s thoughts on gratefulness expressed in Bread for the Journey: To be grateful for the good things that happen in our lives is easy, but to be grateful for all of our lives—the good as well as the bad, the moments of joy as well as the moments of sorrow, the successes as well as the failures, the rewards as well as the rejections –- that requires hard spiritual work. Still, we are only grateful people when we can say thank you to all that has brought us to the present moment. As long as we keep dividing our lives between events and people we would like to remember and those we would rather forget, we cannot claim the fullness of our beings as a gift of God to be grateful for. Let’s not be afraid to look at everything that has brought us to where we are now and trust that we will soon see in it the guiding hand of a loving God.

In my book, available at Amazon.com Whispers on the Journey, I write on Page 18 in the section on gratitude how the gift of an orange at Christmas taught me to be thankful:       To this day, I enjoy the fragrance and taste of an orange, and I smile. I didn’t know our family was as poor as we truly were. What I do know is that I was thankful for the small things, the blue sky days, the flowers, enough food for our large family. I am not sure you can teach someone to overflow with gratitude, to whisper thank you for the small gifts of life. Perhaps it was because I had few material things, I simply was grateful for the everyday miracles.

“My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.” Psalm 71:8

I will forever be grateful for this day, November 17. Fifty eight years ago today, I began walking with a teen age boy as a senior in high school. There are not many days that I do not whisper a thank you to him and one to the Creator for him.  I will continue to follow  both until….  

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us—and He has given us everything… Thomas Merton Thoughts in Solitude

And to you, my friends and readers, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy…” Philippians 1:3,4. Your life is a gift to me, and I ramble…

…  in gratefulness… for you…

 

 

 

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… walking wisely…

I gasped at the size of this spider. Then I remembered the pest control guys told me two weeks ago this kind is my friend. “You want this one in your garage… even in your house. They eat the brown … Continue reading

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… leaving behind… what?

Recently, as I ran to catch up with Tom walking with Evelyn Jane and Isaac in the park, this scene stopped me. I was suspended ‘somewhere in time’. Memories flashed  around me. Pictures from the rear-view are a favorite of mine and always allow a vision of those who have gone before… lining the path ahead.

The words to “Find us Faithful” exploded over me. I remember Tom sang this song during our commissioning service when we left for Europe in 2000. “May those who come behind us find us faithful….”

What did these words  mean then when we left our children, family and friends twenty years ago?  What were we leaving behind?  And what would they remember during our ten years away?

What do they mean now for our grandchildren and our five greats– Evelyn Jane, Isaac, Eli, Natalie and Malachi—will they find us faithful—–to what and to whom?

The path looked a bit mysterious; Evelyn Jane and Isaac weren’t quite sure they wanted to keep going. “But it’s dark on this road,” Evelyn whispered as I caught up. As long as we were holding hands, they kept walking.

“May those who come behind us find us faithful”

I can admit I, too, am a bit afraid of the dark ahead.   Even David said, in Psalm 142, “When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who know my way. In the path where I walk, men have hidden a snare for me.” v3.”  He was in a cave, hiding, and he was afraid.  I can’t always see what’s behind the trees or around the curves, but I am trying to stand faithfully.

“… continue to live in Him, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7,8

We’re pilgrims on the journey
Of the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us line the way
Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary
Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace

I see Tom’s mother waving excitedly as we approach, Mary Jane Lee from Kingsport, Tennessee, smiles her sweet smile, Dr. W.F. Hall– our Bible teacher at Chilhowee gives us a thumbs up as we pass. Oh, there’s Debbie Klementz from Vienna, Austria—many others who have finished the journey–and NOW encouraging us all to stand faithfully.

After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone
And our children sift through all we’ve left behind

May the clues that they discover and the memories they uncover
become the light that leads them to the road we each must find

This week we have cleaned out the garage, reorganizing things and stuff…. and memories.  What will these containers reveal one day when we are gone? When the girls open a box of mementos, what will they remember about their parents? I opened a box of rocks… yes, rocks picked up along  the beaches of the countries we visited.  The kids will have no idea how we laughed over finding them. Hopefully, they will remember our lives stood firm on the ROCK…  the only Rock that matters.  Will our books, journals, pictures “lead them to the road that we each must find?

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Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses
Let us run the race not only for the prize
But as those who’ve gone before us
Let us leave to those behind us
The heritage of faithfulness passed on through godly lives

CHORUS:
Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful
May the fire of our devotion light their way
May the footprints that we leave
Lead them to believe
And the lives we live inspire them to obey

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

walking… one day at a time… trusting.

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