Foreshadowing

A little over ten years ago, Papa and Granny Grant (my husband’s grandparents) gave us an Easter Lily to mark the birth of our first child. The occasion was even more special because our daughter was born on Granny Grant’s 70th birthday.

The lily has bloomed every year, even surviving the move to our new house in 2009. But this year, it didn’t appear. No lily peaking out of the ground in early spring.

My husband thinks it was foreshadowing.

You see, we lost Granny Grant today. She slipped away to heaven’s door this morning and is spending her first night with Jesus tonight. I can only imagine that first tender moment after she crossed the veil. I picture God leaning down to whisper, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Our hearts ache this side of heaven. Granny was a precious soul, gentle and kind. She had a way of putting people at ease. She remembered every birthday, celebrated every victory, and loved her people dearly. We will miss her.

Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

Our Easter Lily bloomed faithfully for nine years.

Our Easter Lily bloomed faithfully for nine years.

My husband and our daughters with Papa and Granny Grant.

My husband and our daughters with Papa and Granny Grant.

Birthday buddies! These two celebrated their April 7th birthdays together for ten years.

Birthday buddies! These two celebrated their April 7th birthdays together last month. Precious memories!

 

 

 

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Love is…

I just finished reading The Family of Jesus by Karen Kingsbury. It’s a Bible study that looks at six members of Jesus’s family – Joseph, Zechariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Jesus’s brother James, and Jesus’s mother Mary. Kingsbury combines Biblical truth with fictional insights to bring each of their stories to life.

The whole study was great, but I lingered the most on Joseph’s section. I’ve known his part in the account of Jesus’s birth, but I hadn’t given Joseph much thought beyond that. Kingsbury paints Joseph as the protector, who goes to extraordinary lengths to watch over his family.

Then this morning, I heard the song Joseph’s Lullaby by MercyMe. Here are a few lines…

I believe the glory of Heaven
Is lying in my arms tonight
But Lord, I ask that He for just this moment
Simply be my child

Joseph’s knew he held the Son of God. He knew he was Jesus’s stepfather. But he had a deep abiding love for Jesus, as evidenced by his actions.

Joseph cared for Mary as best he could during her pregnancy. Joseph fled with his family to Egypt to keep Jesus from harm. Joseph taught Jesus his trade – carpentry. Joseph’s deeds showed love.

All this took my thoughts back to an act of love I experienced in college. I went to a small school in a town on the Texas/Oklahoma border, about an hour and fifteen minutes north of Dallas. My grandparents lived in Dallas, so I often made the trek up and down I-75.

Unfortunately, my car had a tendency to break down. This was before cell phones, so I usually had to walk to the nearest gas station or store to call my grandparents. My grandpa – I called him Pops – would hop in his car to come get me.

One of those times, I remember getting back to my grandparents’s house in Dallas, and there was a bowl of melted ice cream sitting next to Pops’s chair. Apparently he’d just fixed himself a bowl of ice cream when I called. He set the bowl down and came to get me. He didn’t even finish his ice cream first.

So for me – love is melted ice cream.

Let’s talk: How would you finish this sentence: Love is…?

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[Not] Lost in Translation

When my oldest was two, I’d tell her I was making hot tea or a pot of tea. Somehow she combined the two and told our neighbors that mommy liked pot tea. Like Lucy, I had some ‘splainin to do.

Fast forward eight or so years. 2015 is a year for scripture memorization in our house. Lori, one of my college roommates, asked if I’d join her in taking the 2015 Siesta Scripture Memorization challenge sponsored by Beth Moore’s Living Proof Ministries.

I just logged my fifth verse yesterday:

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. Psalm 27:14

I figured if I was memorizing scripture, it wouldn’t hurt my girls to do it too.

I’ve tried to pick out key verses for them, ones that will work into the fiber of their young minds and sustain them as they grow.

Their current verse is Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (New King James Version)

This weekend my youngest was trying to find the verse in her Bible…an NIV, and saw the words didn’t match exactly. Her Bible read I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

She asked why the verse looked different in her Bible.

I told her the Bible wasn’t originally written in English, so people choose different words when they translate it. The important thing is that the meaning stays the same. And that we trust God to make his meaning – by way of the Bible – clear in our lives.

We trust because the Bible tells us that all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16, 17

That’s a hard concept for a seven-year old. Heck, it’s a hard concept for a 38-year-old.

But I choose to trust that nothing’s lost in translation. I trust that God’s word is true and holds promise both for this life and the life to come.

Let’s talk: What’s your favorite Bible translation and why?

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The rest of the story

I recently heard the sequel to a story I didn’t know had a part two.

Part one goes something like this…

I was helping with my youngest daughter’s Friendship Party at her school on the day before Valentine’s.

A dad of one of the other kids brought several bags of Wedding Cookies to the party and handed them out to all the moms who helped with the party. “How sweet,” I thought at the time and set them on our kitchen counter when I got home.

Wedding cookies from the Friendship Party

But that’s not the whole story.

This week my youngest came home and said that one of the other kids – Vincent – was making a funny noise during reading group…kind of like a crying sound in the back of his throat. (footnote: Vincent’s dad was the one handing out cookies at the party.)

The teacher asked Vincent if he wanted to lay his head on his desk and take a break. He did.

When Vincent went back to his desk, the teacher explained to the other kids in the reading group that Vincent’s mom got sick last year and passed away. Sometimes Vincent makes that sound when he’s missing her.

As my daughter was telling me the story, the pieces clicked into place. I realized Vincent’s dad was handing out cookies because his wife couldn’t be there to help with the party. He was thanking the moms who could.

All of a sudden, that gesture meant so much more. The back story multiplied the blessings of the gift.

It got me thinking…how often do ideas flit through my mind? Small kindnesses I can do for others? And how often do I let them get away without any action on my part?

So yesterday, my small act of kindness was to take cornbread and milk to my grandmother. She lives in an assisted living community, so her meals are prepared for her. She doesn’t get much say in what she eats. But I know that one of her favorite treats is cornbread crumbled into a glass of milk.

Her eyes lit up when she saw what I had brought. She tucked into her treat with great enthusiasm. And I was blessed to see her enjoy it.

Let’s talk: Have you witnessed any small acts of kindness lately? Were you on the giving end or the receiving end? How did it make you feel?

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Safely on board

I love a good dog story, although it wasn’t always that way. I used to be a teensy bit afraid of dogs – until we got one.

A year into marriage, my husband and I adopted our first ‘child,’ a yellow lab named Max. She put us through the paces that year. You can read one story here.

But she’s turned out to be an awesome dog. Loyal, good-natured, plays well with kids – she’s a huge part of our family.

Our dog Max

Our dog Max

I walked her this morning and happened to glance down at Max’s new collar. It has her name and our phone number embroidered on it. I bought it after losing one too many of the dangly metal charms somewhere in the yard.

I don’t know why, but somehow my mind went to a verse in Isaiah.

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands (Is. 49:16)

We lay claim to those we love, don’t we?

Just like the dog collar identifies Max as ours, God identifies us as His. He even went so far as to engrave our names on the palms of his hands.

That’s not much of a dog story, is it? Just some ol’ reference to a dumb dog collar.

But don’t go yet. I do have a story to share.

Early in their marriage, my brother and his wife adopted a dog they named Maple. They were living in Juneau, Alaska, at the time, so Maple started her life in the frigid north.

A year or so later, my brother took a job in Washington, D.C. Maple also made the move.

My brother and his wife had to change planes en route from Juneau to Washington. I can’t remember which airport, but details, schmetails.

Anyway, their incoming plane was late, and my brother and his wife only had a few minutes to make their connection. They were a little panicked about Maple. What if the airline didn’t transfer her in time? Where would she end up?

Out of breath, my brother and his wife made it to their seats. The plane was cleared for departure when the captain came over the loud speaker.

“Just a second, folks,” he said. “We’re waiting on some precious cargo.”

You can guess what the precious cargo was, can’t you?

A few minutes later, a flight attendant handed my brother a piece of paper with Maple’s claim number on it.

“Don’t worry,” read the paper. “I’m safely on board.”

The plane pushed back and all three of them arrived in D.C. together.

I get teary-eyed, thinking about those few minutes when my brother and his wife didn’t know if Maple was going to make the flight.

It may seem silly to get all worked up about a dog, but I like thinking about all the people who made it possible for Maple to end up on the right plane. She arrived safely, thanks to them.

How about us? Are we helping others on their journey? Are we pointing them to the one who’s engraved their names on His hand?

For those who’ve placed their trust in God, eternity with Him is our final destination. He’s laid claim to us, and we are His. Don’t lose sight of that. Don’t hop on the wrong plane. And do your best to help others on their journey, too.

Let’s talk: Any heartwarming dog stories to share?

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Joy in the journey

One of my closest friends left yesterday. Her husband took a three-year assignment in Australia. *Sigh* To make matters worse, our kids are good friends. *Double sigh*

We’ve shed more than a few tears at our house over their leaving. It hurts.

Both the leaving and the staying have their challenges. Australia sounds like fun, for sure, but our friends’ decision to uproot their lives and move to the flip side of the world didn’t come easily.

Before she left, my friend said she’d been mulling over a certain phrase she recently saw on a piece of jewelry. It said, “Joy in the journey.”

Over the past few weeks that theme has been etched in her brain. It’s a reminder that while God’s plans may take us to unexpected places, the journey is just as important as the destination.

God has plans for us as we go.

Take Jacob, for example.

In Genesis 28, he was traveling from Beersheba to Haran on his quest to find a wife. Using a rock for a pillow, he fell asleep. In his dreams he saw a stairway to heaven, with angels climbing up and down. God stood above the stairway and spoke to Jacob in his dream.

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you. Genesis 28:15, NIV

Jacob woke up with a fresh assurance of God’s nearness. If you read the rest of Jacob’s story, you’ll find that his journey wasn’t without a few bumps along the way. (Working seven years for the wrong woman must have felt like a significant detour.)

But God was with him. And Jacob’s journey prepared him to be the father of the nation of Israel.

So, today, amidst my tears, I’m thanking God for the journey – both my friend’s and my own. I’m thankful for his nearness and provision. And I’m trusting him to get us all safely home.

Let’s talk: How do you handle good-byes? Which do you think is harder – the leaving or the staying?

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Standing for Jesus

Yesterday was a special day for our family. Our youngest daughter was baptized. You can read about her salvation moment here.

Sharing her testimony

Sharing her testimony

 

With Pastor David before the baptism

With Pastor David before the baptism

 

Into the waters

Into the waters

I was up in the wings of the baptistery, so I didn’t get a glimpse of the congregation when our youth pastor asked friends and family to stand as a show of support for our girl. But my husband, who was sitting in the second row, glanced over his shoulder long enough to catch a glimpse of people standing all over the room.

Wow! It’s humbling to think of all the people who come alongside us every day and do life with us. We are blessed beyond measure to call them family and friends.

My prayer today is for them, and also for those we don’t know.

Baptism isn’t a means of salvation, but it’s an outward expression of what’s taken place in the heart.

A friend’s daughter was also baptized yesterday, and maybe, just maybe, someone was touched by yesterday’s baptisms. Two girls, standing for Jesus.

As the New Year unfolds, I’m asking myself – Am I, like my girl, willing to stand for Jesus? Am I will to tell of his love and his redeeming work on the cross? I hope so.

That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

Let’s talk: What’s your most memorable moment of 2015 so far?

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