What to Pack: A Sweater of Peace

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What did I expect, a “surrender Dorothy” message written across the sky?! When I prayed for peace and the ability to exchange issues of life for a good night’s sleep, I expected to be relieved of stress, but I hadn’t thought how He might do that.  When I prayed for changes in the lives of others, I didn’t believe I’d wake up one morning and find instant change, but I expected something to change, for I pray without doubting. I just didn’t expect the change to be me. I know God hears, and my problem is waiting…and waiting. In the meantime, He answered a deeper longing, a need for that peace that passes all understanding that He promises in Phil. 4:6-7.

What preceded this was a sleepless Thursday night. Unable to turn off my mind, I had finally gotten out of bed at 2:20, stood at the kitchen window wishing for sleep or daylight, read a short devotional and a couple of verses from Psalm. And I prayed. So hard did I pray, and silently sang “The Lifter of my Head”, over and over until I felt sleep crawling over my shoulders like a warm sweater. I drifted off thinking of packing a suitcase like last week’s blog, and this time the need was a sweater; a multi-purpose sweater as advised by my friend, that I should pack for an upcoming trip (thanks Linda Pugh). A nice big sweater woven of warm devotionals, color coordinated answers from God and patterned just for me, would be a most valuable take-along! A covering like the feathers of Psalm 91:4, “He shall cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you shall take refuge; His truth shall be your shield and buckler.”

Friday morning I had answers from unexpected sources. As I said, I didn’t expect anything specific, just changes, so why was I surprised? Maybe because the changes were for me instead of what I had asked; reminders of peace, and that I am not alone. Here is where they were. First, sitting in the veterinarian’s waiting room, the receptionist (also my hairdresser) who knows me pretty well, said I looked tired. Yep. That would be correct. Before my fur baby and I left,  Rebecca had opened on her phone a devotional for me to read, a reminder that God replaces anxious and ill thoughts with peaceful ones, when we trust Him. That message on her phone hit the bull’s eye for my previous night’s wrestling match. Secondly, because God created some beautiful things called roses, I had to share on Facebook my final bouquet of the year, which led me to quickly scroll a few posts that popped into my news feed. Bam. A prayer shared by the daughter of a friend. It was from a “Midnight Mom Devotional” and that particular prayer, out of a whole year’s worth, was for the momma with an anxious heart. That led me to read her intro story which spoke of the sleepless nights from the time they’re born until forever. What resonated with me most was “The night can be so dark and lonely.” I went back to the prayer and as I read it aloud, I sobbed with relief, and it became crystal clear that these three women were used by God to lift me, comfort me, and show His peace.  Before I go, I want to share the name of that devotional: @MidnightMomDevotional.

Hairdressers, daughters of friends, authors, roses…SO much more natural than some miraculous or unthought of sign; little parts of our everyday life, brought to you by the Father Who hears, and loves you with answers while you wait for the bigger answers.

” 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

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PACKING FOR THE SEASON: Today’s need? Encouragement

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Too heavy? Let’s repack.

Happy Monday Friends! A new week always brings with it a kaleidoscope of feelings – from “ok! let’s get this done” to “oh man, not yet!”  We know life’s a journey, moving through seasons, but each week holds its own little trip within this journey, doesn’t it? Breaking it down into week-sized portions makes it manageable for me.  What journey is your present season sending you on this week?  Will your luggage be packed with the seasonal contents you need? Or will you be lugging heavy baggage that makes the trip a burden?

As you may have guessed, there’s no one-list-fits-all. Two main reasons are, one, we may have unexpected hiccups along the way; and two, we are all likely to be traveling in different seasons. But what I can promise you, is that God DOES know what you face, and as His child, He will provide what you haven’t packed. Yes, God knows what the week will hold, and He will bless us with the encouragement to get through it!

Now, what has He provided this week? Hopefully you were able yesterday to start the week with a feast from the word of God.  But something else He tucked into my suitcase for the week was amazing inspiration from a sweet friend in my church family. She told me that as she traveled on a short trip last week, she took along the CD from my latest speaking engagement and again gained encouragement from it. Oh my goodness gracious!!! How inspired I was from that simple statement. Encouragement is reciprocal! As I’d really been questioning where writing fits into my journey, this friend helped me pack! Margaret Gibson, you are a jewel! Thank God for sending us friendship and fellowship for our big journey. Their words of advice from experience, their inspiration, and their willingness to be our sounding boards are great gifts from our Father Who knows just what we need!

We don’t wear labels, like a train or airline ticket that tells others where we are headed. Though we can get good advice on what others think we need to pack, even the best buds can’t know exactly what’s around the bend. So, I suggest the following three things to keep in your carry-on, ready for whatever trip you are about to take this week.

First, prayer. Always pray. Solicit the Father’s provision and protection. (I Thessalonians 5:17; Jeremiah 29: 12)

Second, communication. Talk over the week’s plans and possibilities along with probable snags. Seek the advice of your spouse, your bestie, or someone whose interest and judgement you trust. Don’t go it alone; remember you don’t wear a label and we can’t read each other’s minds. Communicate. (Proverbs 18:34)

Thirdly, release. Unpack all that heavy stuff – the anxieties about the future, the regrets about how things went on the last trip, and the temptation to omit the first two points – don’t  do this alone. Trust God, who wants you to be blessed and has provided all.

“For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:8b NKJV

“The Lord will give strength to His people. The Lord will bless His people with peace.” Psalm 29:1

In EVERTHING be Thankful?? How?

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When God said be thankful IN everything, He didn’t say FOR everything…it’s OK to not be grateful for the storms. But even in the eye of our hurricane, we can be thankful for the calm after, the protection through, and the hope around it.

I seriously doubt if the recent hurricane victims were out in the wind and rain, thanking God for the rough times. Oh, I’m sure most were praying, but I for one would not be expressing gratitude in those moments. I would be praying, Lord save me! Like the evenings I’ve been hunkered down in the bathroom closet with Auggie Doggie, ready to pull the clothes in on top of us. Tornado warnings tend to make me do such things. Hasn’t your stomach leapt up into your throat a time or two for fear of SOMETHING! Not a worrier, I don’t pace the floors every time a thunder-cloud darkens the sky.  But to “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” is a good motto, so I take the warnings seriously.  How am I thankful in that?

First, I thank God for warnings! That, and the protection I seek are in the back of my mind as I’m asking Him to save us. Next, I am grateful that I even have hope – hope that God is able; able to save physically and spiritually regardless of the path of my storms. Third, thank you Lord for the calm after the storm, a time to catch my breath, rebuild and repair!

Have you ever been caught in a blinding storm while driving… on the interstate…with semis driving like they don’t see a storm, and the driver in front of you only visible when you are within two feet of his bumper? At those times I feel a rush of adrenalin like I’d forgotten was possible. And I don’t know which is stronger, my prayer, or my grip on the steering wheel. The very act of praying – for anything – is letting God know you’re thankful He is there! Life situations can have the same effect as that interstate storm. In those times, it’s important that we remember who we are, and whose we are. (Yes, I said that to my kids too, every morning from the time they started to school) As Christians, we have a Father who sees us, loves us, and wants the best for us.

Thankful for the storms? No, I am not. Thankful for the warnings in scripture to guide me away from satan’s desire to harm me? Yes. Thankful for the protection through the storms? Yes, as a hen gathers her chickens, He still wants to keep His spiritual Jerusalem under His wing. (Psalm 17:8; Matthew 23:37) The calm after the storm? Yes, for the lessons learned, the peace that passes all understanding, and the rebuilding. (II Corinthians 5:17; Philippians 4:7)

Those pines and palms that bend near the ground without breaking must have had a lot of wind whipping! They gained a strength from the storms they weathered through the years. I’ll save that thought for another day. For now I am just so thankful for the  warnings, shelter, and calm – not only for the sake of those in the path of recent hurricanes – but for those same spiritual blessings found in  the Word of God.

Eternally His, Trisha

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God;” Philippians 4:6

Grace for Guilt: An Exchange of Enough

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I am guilty. Nothing I am or ever will do, can remove that guilt nor be enough for God’s acceptance. The one thing that makes me as good as new, guiltless, is the grace of God, and that is enough. I have only just begun to realize the depth of that grace. My everything isn’t enough; His enough is everything.

“But God…made us alive…and raised us up…that He might show the exceeding riches of His grace…in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Ephesians 2:4-10 (NKJV)

The BEST deal of all ages, hands down, is in that section of Ephesians 2.. To stress what God did, I left out the prepositional phrases where Paul explains when, where, how and why. It makes more impact on my brain if I cut through the chase first to get the noun and verbs – the main thing being said. God – made, raised, and saved. YOU, ME, us; when? Even when we were dead in our sins, (verse 5) Hallelujah!

I must thank Karen Bolls for a really good lesson last Wednesday night and the inspiration for this blog article. She titled it ‘NEW’ with the main points being “recently created, fresh, clean, untouched”, being unworthy and made new by God through the blood of Christ. My trigger was tripped as thoughts of grace in the place of my guilt flooded my mind.

Just as verse 5 answered the question when, the other questions are answered as well. Where? In Christ. How? By God’s grace. Why? Because of His great love. That beautiful grace that answers how, is my focus here. As the scripture points out, it is not by faith (“that not of yourselves”) and it is not by works (lest we think we have any claim to power) that we are saved.

From the tempter’s first encounter with woman, he has continually striven to ruin mankind’s relationship with our Holy Father. We, being human, continually participate  in those efforts and would never be clean enough to come before God, if not for the cleansing blood of Christ. We’re like the child with brand new sneakers on, always destined for  the nearest patch of dirt, who would never wear clean shoes if not for Maytag, Tide, and a forgiving mom! But, we have to get the shoes off the child first!

I love a good deal! Fifty percent off? Yes ma’am! Trade me that cool sweater for a jacket I never use? Sure! There’s always an exchange for what we want. While nothing can be given to Him that makes us deserving of God’s grace, within that grace is provided the means of exchange:  His forgiveness for our repentance. We lay down our guilt through faith that He can do it, and He makes us clean in our obedience of immersion into the blood of Jesus.  His grace is that He allows our faith to do simple works, and He calls it a done deal. He didn’t have to do it; but his great love for us caused Him to have mercy, and extend the grace. By that grace, He provided a means of forgiveness and acceptance – and all I have to give Him is my heart so He can dump out the dirt! My guilt, my sin, all to Him to wash away forever! Away from me, as the Psalmist said, “as far as the east is from the west” (Psalm 103:12).

My guilt, for His Grace? Yes, thank you! In that store of compassion and mercy, I have found a delightful deal; I cast off my old dirty coat for a brand spanking new one!

In the region of Unbelievable, I found my soul retrievable. The sign upon the mystic door, read “come in, and grieve of guilt no more”. The proprietor offered his service free, for he could see the lack in me. Into a room of lost and found, he said that I may look around. There lay my soul with dirt and rust, a price tag said ‘obey and trust’. You mean there is no greater cost? You’ve saved it for me, while I was lost?  “Yes, the greatest price I paid one day, for I had hopes you’d come my way.”

Trisha

 

 

 

 

Angry Words: Bad Cream for the Coffee

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“See how great a forest a little fire kindles” (James 3:5)

Don’t we hate it when a good cup of coffee gets ruined by  cream that’s gone bad? Um, excuse me, may I have another cup of coffee please?

It seems that when I most need to write, I resist, unable to unravel the knots of thought about my concerns. There was a time (a much simpler time) when problems sent me straight to pen and paper, writing away my woes and as I wrote, the issue would spin itself out.  Other times, I just read God’s word, prayed, cried a little, and busied my way through it. Over time I have become blessed with three prayer warriors on whom I can call for their petitions to the Father on my behalf, as well as family members’ behalf.  God will know the matter for which they are praying. His word does comfort me, and when I am still and receptive, the Holy Spirit gives me understanding that makes sense of it all. Yet, I know that until I begin to write, the cloud over my head will not completely disperse. You writers know what I mean.

“Angry words, oh let them never, from the tongue unbridled slip. May the heart’s best impulse ever check them ere they soil the lip.” I always liked singing that song in church services. Maybe the soiled lip is the least of the problems. One can ask for forgiveness, bring out the old bar of soap, get a new cup of coffee, and moving on can be done. But it’s the damage done to another’s heart that is the most dreadful result. Then the forest of James 3:5 is torched. Probably, knowing you owned the words that hurt, but didn’t discharge them into the REAL source of your anger, is what makes forgiving self so difficult. I observed one such situation a few years ago, and though I scribbled thoughts for myself then, until I stopped reeling I couldn’t turn it into a lesson to live by or an encouragement for others. However, time heals much, writers block included.

Seeing people we love throw poisonous spears into each other is painful beyond description. Words echo as from a black  malodorous cavern. Words spoken in haste – the kindling that inflames – can be explained believably as “I didn’t really mean it”; but those same words from another are taken straight to heart. It’s a double standard. I truly believe neither side really intended to hurt the other, nor did either really mean all they said. And, unfortunately something may have been simmering below the surface to produce the toxic emesis of words.

People who are passionate about something, like maybe saving the mosquitos in Quebec, or whatever, can get pretty fired up if their ideals are challenged. They can quote all the right research and reasons why this is a deserving mission; and just let someone swat a mosquito in front of them –  you’ll see a sudden explosion, without a glimmer of regret.  There is a way to avoid that scenario. It’s called the golden rule. Just be considerate. Use the mosquito spray when the activists aren’t looking. Just kidding. But not really. My point is, to not provoke someone when it is known that they are wrapped in the issue.

And then to put the shoe on the other foot, the individual who cannot tolerate a missing mosquito, aka a differing opinion, must realize we all have our reasons – and so to respect the difference, especially if on the other’s turf – is also the golden rule. So, if you must kill a mosquito, please do so minimally, outside of our designated area of Quebecian qualified quindecennnial protected species. Or something like that. Anyway, when it comes to conflict a little kindness goes a long way toward one’s own agenda, not to mention protecting relationships, and human relationships are above all, valuable commodities. More valuable, I’d say than any issue most of us would be toting in our over-inflated bag of ego.

Isn’t it strange how one word, or accusation fuels another? Before long no-one is addressing the actual reason for the argument. It gets to be a shameful shouting match, with old resentments brought up (that simmering below the surface I mentioned) and then each injury brings out another insult. As much as we want to forget, some things just won’t scoot out easily. Pride perhaps has more to do with reluctance to ask forgiveness which is harder to do than  forgiving. Even after and if amends are made, that awful echo is there. How do people forget? Short of dementia, it is impossible to pretend the words weren’t out there. And then the hearts of good people struggle with  “did he/she mean it” or “will they be able to forget what I said?” So both sides go away feeling less important than a mosquito, and guilty of causing such feelings. Then satan has had his way. Feeling lowly, guilty, unworthy – those are the playing fields of the devil. He knows that those feelings keep us from approaching the Lord’s throne of grace in the confidence and faith that a child of the King should.

I began to realize that the situation near to my heart was no different from most of the world. But that too hurts – we are not to be like the ‘world’. We are called out, as children of God, to be examples of Christ’s love. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Matthew 7:12 paraphrased)

Pray without ceasing (I Thess. 5:17). Ask without doubting. Love without conditions. Forgive as your Father in Heaven has forgiven you. “Be angry and sin not” (Ephesians 4:26).

So all is not lost. We can pour a new cup of coffee; check the cream next time before pouring it; and it only takes two seconds to say “I’m sorry, please forgive me”.

 

Thank God, Even When the ‘Maters are Mashed

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“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

Oh yes! He has given us all we need. Above all, peace (John 14:27); even on a tearful morning when the carnal mind is trying to “mash my ‘maters” with thoughts of earthly things that the world says are important, to cloud over the amazing brilliance of all that God has given. People don’t mean to sit on your tomatoes. They’re just grabbing a seat, living life the same way you want to. Sure, there are things we want in life – in fact, God tells us to pour out our longings to Him – but the level of happiness they bring, rides on an elevator of circumstances. However, the peace, joy and mercy from God aren’t dependent on those things. Physical blessings come and go, but the spiritual blessings are for keeps, unless, of course, we walk into darkness and lose them. Even then they can be restored. “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and uphold me by your generous Spirit.” Psalm 51:10-12

Life is fragile; it comes and goes. But the joy that it brings, and leaves with us, stays. There is a joy in knowing the Giver of that life continues to care, more than we know how to. He sees when we are struggling with gaps in our faith, with holes in our blankets, with pain and quicksands in life.

Sept. 20, 2018. So much life has happened this week. My niece is holding her newborn son today. A dear friend buried her 57-year-old husband yesterday, a sudden loss for the world of lives he touched. Bill however, entered an eternity of peace and joy on Sunday. My baby girl turned 39 today; I don’t feel old, just left behind, sort of. How much of what I meant to do and didn’t is important? We started our farm harvest this week – a reminder of how short seasons really are – and you better start them out right! Lastly, I’ll be attending the wedding of a good friend’s daughter on Saturday. All this in a week! Birth, birthday celebration, wedding, death, and gratitude for a good harvest.

As I sit here by the pond, pondering all this, my husband is running the combine some 50 acres or so north as is a neighbor to my south. Life, work, pleasures and sorrows all go on and on. Sometimes you get the pink one, sometimes the blue.Some days you win, some days you lose. Thank God for each new day woven in peace, for the spiritual joy in the heart He relieves.

Take a journal and start writing; make a list of your blessings. If you compare a list of “what I have” with a list of “what I have not”, you will find the “haves” far exceed the longings. For at the top of the “have” list is God’s son, and you can’t top that!

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Pondering

 

 

PEA PICKIN’ TIMES: There’s a Harvest Among the Tares.

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Among the Goliath weeds and dried corn stalks, roam my pea vines; more rich in vines and scarce in pea pods, I appreciate every last pea I find! Jesus taught in parables that He values every single soul that is still out in the world, not yet gathered into His Father’s house.  In late summer, early fall, there’s a rustle of harvest in the wind that thrills my senses. It’s pea picking’ time.

I always fail to eke out a pea patch from my husband’s crop land, so the pea seed must land in my fertilized garden where they grow rank, as do the weeds that thrive among pathways too grown over for our tiller. At a glance it looks pointless to even wander into the mess, but once within that daunting jungle, I find the hidden rubies that I call cornfield peas. Some years there are purple hull peas, but this year I only planted the heirloom seed from my Daddy, that I plant and save each year.  These also have purple hulls, grow longer than the traditional purple hull, and have a similar taste. From the ground to the top of corn stalks above my head, the pea vines run  over around and through anything in their paths. Along the maze can be found pods of delicious delight for the taking. And there I find each year that even the undesirable have a purpose. The strong stalks of pigweed, much to the horror of you dainty clean gardeners, provide arches as do the cornstalks I plant next to my peas for that very purpose. In my clean pea patches of the past, was the backache of bending to pick peas. Here in the land of traveling towering vines, I just reach out and take in. It’s like making lemonade when you’re given a lemon.

As I picked I was reminded of my first look at Guyana, S.A. where I had the privilege of working with our mission team on several occasions. Unfortunately, the first impression was made while taking in the canals of rotting animals and sewage, along with the odor of a factory’s byproducts. Our taxi ride made me seriously question the reason for being there. However, just one meeting with the delightful thankful Guyanese made it clear. There are jewels to be garnered among the rankest of weeds. I fell in love with the children, as well as the humble adults who welcomed us into their homeland. Never be so shortsighted as to judge the garden by the weeds. Oh, not as pleasant for sure in getting to the goods, but more gratifying at many levels. God didn’t say reaping grain among tares, peas among weeds, nor souls out of the world would be easy. He just said do it.

The first job ever given to mankind (unless you count ‘be fruitful and multiply’) was to dress the garden (Genesis 2:15).  While the difficulty of the job increased after ‘the fall’, the responsibility remained. “Thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field (Genesis 3:18). Prepare the soil, plant, fertilize and water, and weed out the undesirable plants until harvest. This will not be done without getting our hands dirty, and rubbing elbows with some real stinkers! Pigweeds, crabgrass, and squash bugs are probably my most detested garden inhabitants. There are indeed problems in the world, some we cannot live with and some we just have to work around. Whatever pigweeds are in your life, just use them to bring God glory with a good harvest.

“Do you not say ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” John 4:35 ESV

TC, OUR FEARLESS LEADER

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“Oh, well, it’s gonna be all right…” with a shrug of his shoulders, and a dynamite grin; then he would proclaim “God is good, all the time; all the time, God is good!” A word or two with some airport staff member, and in his easy way, our fearless leader made it all right, again. Perhaps if I could just have one more of his hugs this too would be all right. The last time I saw him was at church – was it just two weeks ago? He was at the welcome center and as I came through the front door, he turned, grinned and waved. Why oh why didn’t I go on over to him for that one last shoulder squeeze? I may have thought he would always be here; he had already endured so much! So I hope you will understand as I add one more tribute to our sweet brother in Christ.

I met Tommy’s reputation and heart before I met Tommy. A sure and strong influence on my brother-in-law becoming a Christian, I saw how he and my little sister were loved into fellowship with Christ. Tommy and his “Peg” opened their home too many times to count and taught a fellowship and love for others that will always be remembered. His “Simper Fi” (“young married who aren’t so young anymore but wouldn’t leave their teacher” class) and his fellow mission team members were just some of those blessed by that home. Thomas Carraway; TC as he was nicknamed; friend, brother, Christ follower, many have repeated his name and his well-known quote since Friday. August 31, 2018, a day Tommy knew was coming and was well prepared for, he breathed his last labored breath, and passed into peace. I know a little part of many many hearts went with him. All the wonderful comments and tears among friends and family encircle his memory like a wreath, and like a cushion, makes our pain of loss more bearable. Some lives leave a footprint; some leave a crater.

Sitting near Tommy in worship services, we witnessed his warmth and his completely unpretentious way of letting others know he cared. From his dear friend who never had to sit alone in church after losing her husband, to the hundreds, no, thousands of Guyanese lives touched by Tommy’s love for sharing God’s love, many walk closer to Jesus than we would have without Tommy. My sister and I first began our Guyana missions together, under the leadership of our Tommy. After we returned from the first of those medical missions, Tommy confessed to me that he had predicted I might be “kinda needy” but trusted it to work out. He was happy to say he had been wrong, and encouraged me to keep going back; best of all, he always thanked us for loving the people of Guyana. What a Leader! It has been shared with me that on several onsets of mission trips, knowing his health wasn’t the best, Tommy said that he would be perfectly happy to die right there in Guyana, doing what he loved. Fearless! Tommy put others first – just ask a rookie mission team member – he loaned her his prized Reba t-shirt when her luggage didn’t make it to Guyana with us! Selfless! Little samples of the big love he lived.

So many of us are better people for having known Tommy Carraway, because he wanted us to know Jesus. And what I think he would want us to do now, is to go out and live every day in such a way that those around you can see that you live what you believe – and that is that God and His love are absolutely enough!

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7 NKJV

Age, You Do Not Scare Me!

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First week of August: It’s hard to be mad at the grass growing in the flower beds when theres a hummingbird sipping on the blue salvia and a bluebird on tbe clothesline pole. Finches are flitting through the blackeyed susans, and a bobwhite calls from the fields. Too much good to dwell on the ungood.
I turn 65 this month, seems like I should be saying that about my parents, not me. But the year of birth verifies it. Its really me. Sitting here on the patio as the sun finds a place to rest, I am overwhelmed with God’s grace. I’ve done nothing to deserve this peace.
Jesus said He gives us peace. Not as the world gives, does He give. And it IS a whole different peace. Though several circumstances could be rewritten if my world were ideal, its that peace that passes all understanding that comes with being in Christ, in spite of the less than idealic. The hummingbird can’t receive life sustenance by being nearby the salvia and feeders, admiring them, talking about them; but must contact that necter, get into it. Well, neither can we receive the peace and grace of Christ”s without contacting Him thru His life giving blood. On the outside looking in just isn’t where He wants us to be. I hear Him beckoning, “Come nearer to me, lean in, feel the peace and protection I promised when you became my child”. Age does not scare me.

THIS DAUGHTER’S DADDY

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I never called my daddy by the more popular ‘dad,’ nor the formal ‘father’. Dad was someone who belonged to my more sophisticated friends; and Father was the one to whom I prayed, the father in Heaven. No, only one name for my daddy – Daddy.

I was born on his 20th birthday, his first child and the apple of his eye I’ve heard, for four and one half years. That’s when his second daughter, a little cherub, was born along with a cradle of other changes in life. But for almost five years, he was all mine, lunch box and all! They say the first few years of a child’s life sets a pattern for giving and accepting love, among other attitudes. After that, we set about real soon trying to abolish every rule, change every ideal, and break every parent’s heart. But for those glorious preschool years, daddies and daughters are pretty tight. In most cases, certainly in mine, all those attempts to become ‘my own’ self of the 1960s and 70s were for nothing. The roots were already down. Deep. In my heart.

Because of my daddy, I still love the smell of wax paper in the lunch box. I happily anticipated his return home after work because I knew I would find a little gem of something left for me in his lunch box.

Because of my daddy, I like the smell of a gasoline engine and oily tools in a garage. I used to line up old spark plugs, nuts and bolts and tools along the wall of the dirt floor garage we first had. A strong pair of hands that held my head up when I was sick often had that grease and oil on them. Thanks for washing them first, Daddy.

Because of my daddy, and my maternal Grandpa, I love the smell of Old Spice aftershave. They both wore it when I was very young, and wrapped my arms around their necks, and sat on Daddy’s knees in church.

Because of my daddy, I love straight young rows of green in the garden. Later, baskets of produce with various colors washed and arranged like flowers in a vase were brought to the door; I love to do that too.

Because of my daddy, I am crazy about breakfast outdoors, and roadside spots to stop and eat bologna and crackers with a coca-cola. He introduced us to camping, too, or I wouldn’t know that this is not always a desirable thing to do. Thanks for the experience Daddy.

There’s nothing magical about wax paper, or motor oil, Old Spice and gardens. The magic that makes these memories mold us is love. Knowing you are safe and surrounded by acceptance is what every child deserves, just for being brought into this world. I had it, and I drip tears onto the newspaper reports of children who get none of it, and worse. Thank you God for a good daddy. Thank you Daddy for loving me, even when I wasn’t lovable.

Happy Father’s Day, to my Daddy, and all the other great dads, grandpas and uncles, and my brother, too! I love you guys!