Saturday, December 29, 2012
I love these photos of laughter and the joy of the moment. My grandson, Storm when he was two years old, shone with such an innocent, joyful spirit and countenance that his aunts, my daughters Holly and Sara, were filled with sheer delight. I can't help but smile in return when I view these pictures.
I'm reminded of the happy Proverb: "A merry heart does good like medicine." 17:22. It has been scientifically proven that laughing is a healthy activity with positive benefits. Besides making the face a lot more attractive than a frown, smiles and laughter lower blood pressure and increase good endorphins in the body. The infectious nature of laughter and smiles is also an encouragement to onlookers as well. "A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance.." 15:33.
So, the next time you're feeling a bit blue or it's raining outside and gloomy, or you're just plain ole tired, force yourself to enjoy a belly laugh and paint a smile across your face -- according to our Lord's own Holy Scripture, it will do you good. In fact, you might find yourself laughing at your own self before you're finished (:
Friday, December 21, 2012
The picture I snapped from a distance is a bit blurry, but you can still see him: a red cardinal sits on a limb at the back of my yard -- a tiny pop of red in a vast sea of green. How striking and beautiful. It causes me to smile.
He flits away, but I know he's still around, I just can't see him. How like our awareness of God's presence. Once in a while, we become acutely aware that He is here with us and that awareness is such a delight -- like a bright pop of red against a sea of green. Then it's gone. Our awareness of His presence has flitted away. His presence isn't really gone, we just can't see or feel it. There's a huge difference in those two statements.
"Lo I am with you always..." (Matthew 28:20) is a promise from Almighty God. Indeed, when a person becomes a Christian, the Holy Spirit actually takes up permanent residence within our body and soul. "Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16. It's a mystery, but nonetheless true.
Here's a couple more encouraging verses to assure you that He's always right there with you: "For He Himself has said, 'I will never leave you nor forsake you'" Hebrews 13:5; and one of my favorites, "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" Romans 8:38-39.
Why don't we live with more awareness of God's presence in and around us? It's called "Life" and it tends to get in the way of that blessed awareness. We don't need to beat ourselves up over it, but we do need to seek out that awareness on a more frequent basis. Don't let the cares of this life insulate you from the feeling of God's presence.
A group called Big Daddy Weave sings a song I love - this is the chorus: "Every time I breathe You seem a little bit closer / I never want to leave / I want to stay in Your warm embrace / Oh basking in the glory shining from Your face / And every time I get another glimpse of Your heart / I realize it’s true / That You are so marvelous God / And I am so in love with You."
The closer we draw to our blessed Savior and walk in an awareness of His presence, the more joy we'll have in our lives and the more "pops of red against a sea of green" we'll delight in.
What a marvelous gift God gives us as Christians -- that we do not have to grieve as those who have no hope. As the passage about Christ's coming reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 4, we can "comfort one another with these words."
One of my favorite "words" from God about this subject is in 2 Corinthians 5:8: "We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord." Indeed, My first thought and words when she took her last breath was, “Mama! What are you seeing now?! I’m so happy for you!” Yes, there are and will continue to be tears, but what a blessing that we sorrow not as those who have no hope, but rather in full hope of what lies in store for each of us who love the Lord.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
My mother stepped into the presence of the Lord on December 6 and was welcomed into Glory by her Savior and by my dear father (her husband of 54 years who'd preceded her into heaven by nearly 18 years). She was 93 years old and no doubt looked a mere 30 as she took that eternal first step into her new home. Three years earlier, I took this picture of her work-worn hands resting atop her mother's Bible.
My impression of Mother's hands is of love and labor and long life. She had the softest touch, always gentle, always caring. Her hands also had the amazing talent of arranging beautiful flower designs, cooking delicious foods, soothing sick family members, and growing a grand garden. I always marveled at how she could break a twig from a tree or bush, push the end down into her special soil, and in only a week or so roots had developed at the end of the twig and it had become a plant in its own right.
Mother truly reflected the verses in Proverbs 31: "Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates...Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her."
In spite of the difficulties she'd endured during the last 2-1/2 years (after breaking her hip), God was faithful. His precious love and tenderness is beautifully shown in the verse in Isaiah 46 where He says our bodies have been, "upheld by Me from birth...even to your old age. I am He, and even to gray hairs I will carry you!" On more than one occasion I remembered that verse and was encouraged that He still had her best interests in His heart.
I am so thankful that Mother committed her life into God's hands as a child and she is even now basking in the light of His dear presence. My mother's hands were swollen and full of wrinkles in the photo, but I've always thought they were beautiful -- and I believe God was pleased with His daughter to the very end of her days upon the earth. We miss you, Mother, but time will be but as a vapor before we see you again.