Saturday, May 14, 2016

From Carolyn...
Morning by Morning
5.14.2016
Hallmark Days

Mother’s Day was last Sunday and Father’s Day is on the horizon. It is a good thing to honor our parents. I miss my mother and have discovered I never regret one moment of care and love in which I gave myself to her. Not just in words but in deeds, especially as she grew older and her needs were greater. Others tell me that I cared for her well and that was certainly my intention. However, at times a tiny voice reminds me of moments I could have been more understanding or given more of myself. I know the truth that God in His higher purposes can and will bring good out of my mistakes and they are each paid for by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. And so I don’t dwell on these missteps but use them as data to give thanks to God for His mercy. I also use these memories to ask Him to make me aware of other folks in my life to love, and when and how. But again, I never regret the times I followed God’s love in obedience and demonstrated my love for Mother by my actions and words.


It’s also a joy to receive the care our sons give me or David. Listening, doing, being-with and sacrificing time for us. Care is an evidence of love when freely given and often speaks louder than words. Certainly however,  the words “I love you” when followed by caring actions are both a huge boon and a blessing, not to be taken lightly. Something big to thank God for.

As I think of these parental Hallmark Days, I think of John’s words that he had no greater joy than to see  his children walk in the truth ( 3rd John 1:4).  The truth John spoke of was Jesus, all He was, all He had given and how He asked that we walk in His sacrificial love for others. He desired we take on the Father’s trait of love as we give our lives to Him, fully and freely. And as we love His other children sacrificially. 
As good as it is to celebrate this familial love on special days, I also think of some whose hearts break for a variety of reasons on such days. First, some did not have a loving environment in which to grow. Even as one grieves this loss, these special days can be a time to remember and count on the fact that we are cradled in the steadfast love of a Perfect Parent who wastes nothing. Even our less-than-perfect relationships are fodder for His healing and for our usefulness. Even their less-than-perfect parenting. Even our less-than-perfect parenting!

Ruth Bell Graham addresses two other circumstances that cause heartache for some on Hallmark Days like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. Both of these poems have provided insight and strength for me at different times in my parenting. And these poems have been challenging.  Both can be found in Prodigals and Those Who Love Them by Ruth Bell Graham. I encourage you to take some moments to let the truths in Graham’s well-chosen words soak into your soul and do Gods work there.

They Felt Good Eyes Upon Them
They felt good eyes upon them 
and shrank within –undone; 
good  parents had good children 
and they – a wandering one. 
The good folk never meant 
to act smug or condemn, 
but having prodigals 
just “wasn’t  done” with them. 
Remind them gently, Lord, 
how You 
have trouble with  Your children, 
too.

*********

Whether thinking about a wandering child of one’s own or looking at others whose child is wandering, it is good to remember that while good parenting is called for and can influence a child toward God, there is another factor. Children have choices. All of God’s children have choices including all of mine and all of yours. 

Another sadness on these special days can be when storms and stresses abound in a child’s life. When we implore and agonize over their situations—the job, the relationship, the health issue, the......you fill in the blank. When we pray and pray. When we “know” what is best for that dear one. This next poem by Ruth Graham gives a wider perspective. Not that we stop praying but that we realize something else also. Someone else is on the move. And the story is not over yet.

Had I Been Joseph's Mother
 Had I been Joseph's mother
I'd have prayed protection from his brothers
"God, keep him safe.
He is so young, so different from the others.”
Mercifully,
she never knew there would be slavery and prison, too.
Had I been Moses’ mother
I'd have wept to keep my little son:
praying she might forget 
the babe drawn from the water of the Nile.
Had I not kept him for her nursing him the while?
Was he not mine,
and she 
but Pharaoh's daughter'
Had I been Daniel's mother
I should have pled 
"Give victory!
this Babylonian horde—
godless and cruel—
don't let them take him captive
better dead,
Almighty Lord!”
Had I been Mary,
Oh, had I been she,
I would have cried 
as never mother cried,
"...Anything, O God, 
anything...
but crucified.”
God, how fortunate
Infinite Wisdom
Should prevail!

**********

Whether in our role as a child or a parent may we remember the One Perfect Parent and thank Him for His self-giving love and His resurrection power in our lives and in the lives of those we care about. Then may we walk in rest and joy even on Hallmark Days that are tinged with sorrow.
In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the God who so loves each of us,                     
Carolyn

Monday, May 9, 2016

Courage!

"With God we shall do valiantly; for He it is who will tread down our foes."—Psalm 108:13

As a child I loved The Wizard of Oz and being a rather small and timid chap was drawn to the Cowardly Lion. In the end, as you know, the lion was given a medal for bravery. “Look what it says," he exclaimed, "'COURAGE!’ Ain’t it the truth, ain’t it the truth!”

Physical courage is one thing; moral courage is another. Sometimes the hardest battles are fought within. Emily Dickinson wrote, "To fight aloud is very brave, but gallanter, I know, who charge within the bosom, the cavalry of woe..." Fortitude is the name we give to this virtue. 

Fortitude is not simply one of the virtues, it's the virtue that gives strength to all the others. Chastity, honesty, patience, mercy are hard-earned virtues in a world like ours. It's fortitude that enables us to endure, to stand immovable in the midst of danger.

Fortitude is "a long obedience in the right direction"; it is doing the right thing over the long haul despite the consequences. Fortitude is sticking with a hard marriage; staying in a small place when prominence beckons; refusing to betray a moral principle just to get along or to get ahead. We can be brave and do the right thing for God is with us in the battle and “He it is who will tread down our foes.”  (108:13).

I think of a scene in C.S. Lewis' The Last Battle: One of the children, Jill Pole asks, “What do you think is inside the stable?” “Who knows?” Tirian replied.  “Two Calormenes with drawn swords, as likely as not, one on each side of the door... There’s no knowing. But courage, child. We are all between the paws of the true Aslan."

Ain't it the truth! Ain’t it the truth!

David
5/9/16 

Monday, May 2, 2016

HOME


Most of my boyhood was spent in the cedar breaks in North Texas. The countryside is built up now, but back then it was mostly ranchland—rolling chalk hills redolent with cedar trees and junipers. The woods were a boy’s paradise with wonderful places to explore. At night, when I was in bed on our screened-in-porch, I’d listen to the coyotes howl and exult in the fact that I was home rather than out in the dark where the wild things were.

One of my favorite daytime pastimes was walking the creek. It was a special stream, an oasis in a dry land. The brook ran clear most of the year and supported lush stands of cottonwoods and willows. When I think about that creek today, I think of deep shade, long walks, solitude and friendly dogs. I have memories of leaving home early in the morning with my yellow hound, my single-shot .410, a bag lunch that my mother made, and walking to the springhead or downstream to where the creek emptied into the lake.

Those hikes were high adventure for me—at least I made them adventure. There were rocks to skip, birds to watch, dams to build, tracks to follow, squirrels to flush along the way. And then if I made it to the mouth of the creek, my dog and I would sit and share our lunch while we watched the biplanes land across the lake.

We’d linger as long as we could, but only so long, for my father wanted me home before the sun went down. The shadows grew long and the hollows got dark fast in the cedar breaks. I’d be wishing along the way that I was home. Though weary, I’d trudge on. It was the hope of going home that kept me going.

Our house sat on a hill behind some trees, but I could always see the light on the porch as I made my way through the woods in the gathering dusk. The light was always on until all the family was in. Often my father would be sitting on the back porch, reading the newspaper, waiting for me. “How did it go?” he’d ask. “Pretty good,” I’d say. “But it sure is good to be home.”

It’s been a long time since I walked that creek, but the memories live on and fill me with what Mole called “divine discontent and longing.” They make me think of another long and arduous journey—the one I’m making now. But I know that at the end of the trail there’s a caring Father and my eternal home. I'm a little weary these days, but it's the thought of going home that keeps me going. 

As I look back on my life I must say that it has had its ups and downs. Like John Bunyan’s Pilgrim, I’ve gone on “sometimes comfortably, sometimes sighingly,” but taken as a whole t's been a pretty good trip. One of these days, though, it’ll start to get dark and I’ll head for home. I’m expected there. The light is on and my Father is waiting for me. How did it go? He’ll ask, “Pretty good,” I’ll say. “But it sure is good to be home.”

David Roper

A Poor Wise Man ""It is amazing what you can accomplish if you don't care who gets the credit" (Harry S. Truman). ...