Tag Archive | daily living

A melancholy musing

Two almost-sisters were blessed with new grandbabies last week.  One is a cousin by marriage who has been family a long time  The other is a life-long friend who calls me her “forever friend.”

I am so happy for both of them.  There is nothing like holding a new baby in your arms, and when that baby is your very own grandchild, well you just have to experience it and you know what I mean.

I was blessed beyond measure to be at the birth of my first grandchild, a girl.  Our one and only son and his beautiful wife lived close to us then, and her parents were driving from out of state to be here when she entered the hospital.  So it was my great priviledge to be in the birthing room when that tiny little creature breathed her first and squalled like a baby.

It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life,   Because birth itself is simply breathtaking.  But when the son of my heart gives life to his own child, that is a mountain’s high peak.

My melancholy comes when I wish for and long for that grandgirl to be closer to my house.  She, along with her two siblings (my other equally precious grandchildren), and her parents moved far away three years ago.

So when I get a Facebook message from that first grandgirl saying, “Dreamt that I arrived at your house after a long trip. I miss your face!!!!!”, I weep.  I just can’t help it. Because I. Miss. Her. Face. So.Very. Much!

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I know I’m not the only one.  I have friends whose grandchildren live across country, and we often share our joys and heartaches at short bursts of togetherness and long stretches of being apart.  We understand each other.

So I rejoice with those almost-sisters who have new babies to hold and snuggle.  They will cherish these days.  And I weep with those who wish their grands were right next door, like mine were for twelve years.

I thank God for those twelve wonderful years.  I was given time to invest in relationships with three that are still precious and dear to this Grammy’s heart.  Those years were a gift, an important and valuable gift that I don’t take for granted.

In my tears, I will remember the hugs, the smiles, the cups of hot cocoa, the snuggles with a thousand Disney movies, the tucking into bed, the reading of books, the telling of stories, the prayers.  Ah, the prayers.  They never stop.  They go wherever the grandchild goes because that is my connection with her and with God.

And I trust God to hold her.

The plan

Day 6 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Find the Lamb of God in Revelations 5 and know God has a plan from beginning to end.

Our one and only son was 10 years old the year The A-Team premiered on TV.  He and Sweet William watched it together.  A group of former military men had a difficult mission each week and did whatever was necessary to complete it for the good and to help the oppressed.  Colonel Hannibal Smith, the leader of the group, quoted the line almost every show.

“I love it when a plan comes together.”

This is the feeling I get when I read the book of Revelation in the Bible.

The first verse of chapter 1 of Revelation gives its theme:

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place.”

Jesus Christ, the Alpha and the Omega.  He was in the beginning and He will be in the end.  The one who died but is now alive forevermore. The entire book is exciting and mysterious and sometimes hard to understand.  But what is clear as a bell is a picture, the revelation of Jesus in all of His heavenly glory and magnificence.

In Chapter five, we see Him as the Lion of Judah and the Lamb that was slain.

Two contrasting members of the animal kingdom give witness to the person of Christ, the fierceness and kingship of a lion versus the meekness and gentleness of a lamb.  He is both.

His first coming was like a lamb, lead to the slaughter, not opening His mouth nor resisting the evil deeds of men.  He gave up His life willingly for this was His purpose.

His second coming will be so different.  We will see Him victorious, conquering, the King of kings ready to assume His rightful reign in the earth.  And the heavens erupt in spontaneous worship.  How can they not!  How can I not join their worship of Him who sits on the throne and unto the Lamb!

From Genesis to Revelation God unfolds this beautiful plan to redeem men and women, boys and girls to Himself.  When we were helpless sinners unable to work hard enough, to be good enough, to make ourselves pure enough to stand before a holy God, God the Father sent God the Son to take our rightful punishment and call us righteous.  

“Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.”

He became like us so that we could become like Him.

The plan is for me to live forever with the Godhead, eternal bliss, forever worship, united with loved ones.  No more tears or death or suffering or pain.  All things will be made new.

I can hardly wait!  The words are faithful and true for the One who said it is faithful and true.  

It’s His plan.  It is His to complete.  He will bring it to pass.

And I love it when a plan comes together.

Enjoy the Crabb family singing about the Lion and the Lamb.

It’s not too late for you to join us on this journey.  Jump right in.

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.  And let us know you are journeying with us.

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For me

Day 5 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Read Isaiah 53, the suffering Savior

passion-garden-jesus-7from The Passion of the Christ movie

I had to watch some of The Passion of the Christ last night even though it’s number 28 on the “40 days” list.  It’s the only way I can get even a glimpse into what Jesus endured to become my Savior.  

His suffering is apparent from the very first scene, Him in the garden alone with His Father, agonizing in pray for relief.  One disciple remarks to another, “What’s wrong with him?  He seems afraid.”

These who had walked with Him for three years had never seen Jesus shrink in fear.  He had faced down the Pharisees and teachers of the law.  He spoke with an authority that shocked and amazed people.  He had no fear of wind and storm or the demonic living in graveyards.

How could the Son of God be afraid?

Yet, that is how it appears, at least in the movie.  Already Jesus seems to feel the weight of all sin-soaked humanity, blood-dropping sweat revealing His battles to do the will of God.  Satan appears, offering Him an easier way, a way out of the suffering that Jesus knows is ahead of Him.

The scene changes.  Jesus stands resolute.  His gaze fixed upon the cross that will come.  His crushing blow to the head of the serpent demonstrates a triumphant act of courage and determination.

The Son of God, the Darling of Heaven, the very Word who was and is and is to come becomes a Savior.  Our Savior.  My Savior.

He was beaten.  He was bruised.  He was wounded.  He was mocked.  He was humiliated.  He was forsaken.  He bore my horrible sin.  He did it for me.

ISAIAH 53

The Message

Who believes what we’ve heard and seen?
    Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling,
    a scrubby plant in a parched field.
There was nothing attractive about him,
    nothing to cause us to take a second look.
He was looked down on and passed over,
    a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand.
One look at him and people turned away.
    We looked down on him, thought he was scum.
But the fact is, it was our pains he carried—
    our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.
We thought he brought it on himself,
    that God was punishing him for his own failures.
But it was our sins that did that to him,
    that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins!
He took the punishment, and that made us whole.
    Through his bruises we get healed.
We’re all like sheep who’ve wandered off and gotten lost.
    We’ve all done our own thing, gone our own way.
And God has piled all our sins, everything we’ve done wrong,
    on him, on him.

He was beaten, he was tortured,
    but he didn’t say a word.
Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered
    and like a sheep being sheared,
    he took it all in silence.
Justice miscarried, and he was led off—
    and did anyone really know what was happening?
He died without a thought for his own welfare,
    beaten bloody for the sins of my people.
They buried him with the wicked,
    threw him in a grave with a rich man,
Even though he’d never hurt a soul
    or said one word that wasn’t true.

Still, it’s what God had in mind all along,
    to crush him with pain.
The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin
    so that he’d see life come from it—life, life, and more life.
    And God’s plan will deeply prosper through him.

Out of that terrible travail of soul,
    he’ll see that it’s worth it and be glad he did it.
Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant,
    will make many “righteous ones,”
    as he himself carries the burden of their sins.
Therefore I’ll reward him extravagantly—
    the best of everything, the highest honors—
Because he looked death in the face and didn’t flinch,
    because he embraced the company of the lowest.
He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many,
    he took up the cause of all the black sheep.

It’s not too late for you to join us on this journey.  Jump right in.

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.  And let us know you are journeying with us.

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God will provide

Day 4 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Read Genesis 22:1-19, the story of Abraham’s testing and his prophetic statement that “God would provide for Himself a lamb.”

I like sheep even though I had to round up a few live ones a couple of times when I was a kid.  I especially like little lambs.  They are just so cute, so fluffy, so innocent looking.  I have started a collection of them.  Like I need another collection.  

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When I think of lambs, my thoughts go to the Old Testament.  The Hebrew people were mostly shepherds of sheep.  And their history begins with Abraham.

Abraham’s story is so intriguing.

The Bible tells us about an old man who left most of his family and all that was familiar to wander an unknown land the rest of his life.   Just because God told him to.

Abraham received and believed some of the most amazing promises.  His life became an example of faith.  What does it really mean to trust God when you don’t understand the what or the why but you trust the Who?

Abraham’s story begins in Genesis chapter 12.

God’s promise to Abraham didn’t always come quickly to fulfillment.  Some did not come to pass in his lifetime.  And I wonder how he kept the faith?

Sometime in his early 80’s, Abraham was promised that he would have a son and that all of the world would be blessed because of his seed.   It wasn’t until Abraham was 100 years old that the promised son, Isaac, was born.  A long time to hold a promise close to his heart.

Our “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend” challenge today is reading about God’s extreme command for Abraham to offer God’s promise on the altar of sacrifice.  It connects us to the story of Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

It was a hard command Abraham heard.  Even more difficult to act upon.  We know the ending to the story, but Abraham carried his heavy heart up the mountain along with the wood and the fire.  I cannot even imagine.

A most profound and prophetic statement is spoken by Abraham before he knows the end of this story.  Somehow his faith kept him under the darkest of circumstances.  When Isaac asked about the sacrifice, the offering they would give, Abraham’s lips moved as the Holy Spirit filled his mouth and he said: 

 “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.”  

The word here for “God” in Hebrew is Elohim, the Creator and Judge.  This is the One who created the plan of salvation from the very beginning; the One who must judge sin because He is righteous and holy; the One who would provide His own sacrificial Lamb because we can never, ever, ever measure up.

This is the God who promised a Savior, a Lamb who would take away the sin of the world.  Hallelujah!

Though the fulfillment of the promise was long in coming, it came!

I have some promises I am holding on to with all my heart.  Yet I may not see all of God’s promises completed and fulfilled in my lifetime.  It is mine to trust the One who made the promise until it comes to be.  And what He says He will do.

 

It’s not too late for you to join us on this journey.  Jump right in.

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.  And let us know you are journeying with us.

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Symbols

Day 2 of 40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

Wear a symbol of your faith during the 40 days.

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At first glance, I think this is going to be easy.  I have a couple of cross necklaces, several bracelets with Christian messages, and a pair of cross earrings.  I even have a scarf with “I love Jesus” printed on it.

No problem.  I can wear any or all of them during the next 40 days.  I have done it before during the season of Lent.  It was a constant reminder to me of Whose I am.

But then I go deeper.

Anyone can wear a piece of jewelry with a cross attached.  In fact, it seems quite popular among the rich and the famous.  Google it for yourself.  Even a female lead on one of my favorite crime-solving shows wears a cross necklace every week.

But does wearing a cross prove I have faith?  I don’t think so.  No more than wearing a baseball cap makes me a ball player.

If I am a Christ follower, it should show in more than just my clothing and my jewelry.  It must be integrated into my actions, my words, and my attitudes.

Hear Paul’s admonition to the Colossians:

Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. Above all, put on love—the perfect bond of unity.” (emphasis mine)

Now that is a fashion statement.

This past Sunday, our pastor at Little Flock said we should love out loud.  What would that look like, this loving out loud?  More than a silver cross on a chain, I’m sure.  Challenging to say the least.

The only way to love out loud, to wear my true faith is to die to myself and live my life through Christ Jesus. Seek the things above rather than the things of this earth.

I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me

This, Christ in me, this is my symbol of faith and this is my destiny.  May it sparkle and shine and be noticed.

Join us on our journey?  We welcome you.  

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.  And let us know you are journeying with us.

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40 days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend

the cross

Tomorrow, March 10, 2014, will mark 40 days until Resurrection Sunday, what the world calls Easter.

Like many other Christian-related events, the holiday of Easter has taken on a life of its own.  It has become very commercial and in many ways something far removed from what it was to represent.  On Easter Sunday morning, people will fill the sanctuaries of churches all over the world.  Some of them haven’t been to church since last Easter.  Many will wear new clothes and shoes to represent newness of life.  Children will find an Easter basket filled with chocolate bunnies, eggs, and jelly beans.  Plastic eggs will be hidden in yards and hunted by happy little folk, excited for the adventure.  Families will gather at the table for a festive meal and probably serve ham.

But . . . let’s view the holiday through a different lens.   

Jesus entered Jerusalem one triumphant Sunday and on the following Thursday, he celebrated the Jewish Passover feast with his twelve friends.  In less than 24 hours, he was hanging on a rugged cross gasping for breath and weighed down with the load of guilt, shame and sin from the likes of you and me.  He was the sacrificial Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, to satisfy a holy and righteous God who must and will judge sin.

He died a horribly cruel death and was buried in a borrowed tomb.  His friends, followers, and family were devastated, their hopes dashed to the bloody ground where Jesus’ life poured out.  They didn’t understand.  

Somehow still, neither does the world.

Sunday morning brought a glorious change.  Astonished women and disciples discovered an empty tomb.  Men walking along a road, welcomed a companion and only recognized Him as the living Lord when He broke bread and gave thanks.  A surprise appearance to the disciples and a touching of the nail prints turned despair unto belief and words joyously proclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”

This is the reason we celebrate.  

I invite you on a 40-day journey to the Passover and Resurrection Sunday.  It begins tomorrow, March 10, 2014.

Would you please join me and my sweet sister-friend, Robin Howe, who will be guest posting with me during the next 40 days?

This journey is meant to prepare our hearts, to work out our salvation by drawing near to the heart of God, becoming more like Christ Jesus in our daily living.  May we become more pliable in the Father’s hand so that He can conform us into the image of Jesus, which is our purpose.

We need a reminder once in a while, yes?

You are welcome here.  Journey with us during the next 40 days.

From Mt. Moriah with Abraham and Isaac to the Israelite deliverance from Egyptian bondage.

To the Judgment halls of Caiaphas, Pilate, and Herod.

To the whipping post and the road to Calvary.

To the darkest weekend the world has ever witnessed.

To the garden tomb very early on Sunday morning.

This is our salvation.  This is our freedom.  This is our victory!

If you would like to download a copy of the “40 Days to Passover and Resurrection Weekend, please do so.  And let us know you are journeying with us.  

40 days to Passover 2014

Thoughts on retirement

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People have asked me “How is retirement?”  Any why not?  I’ve been retired (partly) for a full month and a few days.  I’m an authority.

But really, I am considering the changes that have occurred since January 17th,  I’m still trying to find the rhythm of being in this season of my life.

Thus far these are my thoughts on being retired.

  • There are still sheets to change, clothes to wash, meals to cook and dishes to clean up.  The saying is true, a woman’s work is never done.
  • I find that the two days I teach my piano students are still busy, and I’m too often rushing to complete tasks before lessons begin.  Needing a rhythm here.
  • I still get up early.  It seems natural, and I enjoy watching the sun rise.  But then I also go to bed early.
  • I love that I can linger a little longer over my Bible study, my secret time with Jesus.
  • I stay in my pajamas a little too long some days.
  • It is a good thing to shower, put on a little make-up and style my hair every day even when there is no place to go.
  • Sweet William and our little Buddy dog like me being home more.  They may be getting a bit spoiled.
  • It’s nice to eat breakfast in leisure with Sweet William.
  • Afternoon coffee is still a treat.
  • I am practicing the piano more and enjoying it tremendously.
  • I’ve said “no” to some things and “yes” to others.  I’m learning to be careful about my answers.
  • I’m heeding others’ warnings that retired life can become just as busy as work-a-day life.
  • My mind is not as frantic as it used to be.  I’m traveling in the slow lane a little more.
  • While I’ve almost always had older women in my life as role models, suddenly now I’m the “older woman.” I realize this is a grave responsibility.
  • People are the most important thing.  Giving them my time and a listening ear is one thing I can offer.
  • Ministry opportunities are ever present, and very often it is around the table, whether in my kitchen, someone else’s, or a restaurant.
  • God has designed my life and even now He has plans.  I want to be aware of it and be cooperative with it.

The Almighty knows me.  He has His eye on me.  He has surrounded me with Himself.  His hand rests lovingly on me.  I cannot escape Him nor do I want to.  His plan for me was written long ago.  He thinks about me always.  (Psalm 139)

This journey forward is an adventure.

What are you waiting for?


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I stopped by an estate sale on my way home from work.   A huge barn-like building housed rows of shelving with items of all sorts, shapes, sizes, and ages.  Apparently the big items had already been claimed by family members or sold to interested buyers.  What filled the shelves were the leftovers I assume.  Glassware, Christmas decorations, costume jewelry, kitchen utensils, even cans of cleaning products and a bottle of dog shampoo.

I cruised the isles looking for a treasure when my eyes fell on a white sheet and two pillowcases being sold as a set.  Crisply ironed, the set had lace attached that was exquisite, about 2 and a half inches wide along the edges.  It looked practically new yet it’s design and craftsmanship indicated it was not new but old.

And I wondered about the now deceased owner.  What was she waiting for?  Who would have been a guest worthy of such quality and beauty?  And why didn’t she enjoy them on her own bed?

Just when that thought entered and left my mind, I remembered an equally beautiful set of pillowcases with intricate lace tucked safely into one of my drawers.  They have not been put on pillows in a very long time.

And I said it out loud to myself, “What am I waiting for?”

I guess many of us have the fine china we purchased years ago and only use for special occasions.  But really, how long ago was the occasion special enough to pull it out?  Paper plates are so much easier to dispose of.  Or the every day dishes will easily go into the dishwasher.

A couple of years ago on Christmas Eve, I took my wedding china from the hutch that had belonged to my mother.  I had not used the china in decades.  But that year I set the dinner table with their creamy elegance.  I arranged the silver plated cutlery beside plates and put the cloth napkins in pretty napkin rings.   The ruby crown glasses were taken from a protected shelf and set at their proper place above the knives.

And that Christmas Eve Sweet William and I celebrated a special occasion with our son, daughter-in-love, three precious grandchildren, my dad and step-mother.

When the evening was over, I hand washed the platinum edged china, the glassware and the forks, knives and spoons.  It took time, but it was worth the effort.  I was able to share my best with the ones I love the most.

Two Christmases have passed since then, two years without our family gathered around the big table at the holiday season.  The one and only son does not live in the house next door any longer.  My precious old dad went to be with the Lord this year.

The family table is not the same anymore.

I stand there in the barn at the estate sale and wonder about saving things for later, about waiting for a special occasion.  When I have the time.  When life is not so busy.  When the house is clean.  When that project is complete.  When we have more money.  When the weather changes.  When . . .  ___________.  Fill in the blanks.

Is there a phone call I need to make?  A letter I should write?  Do I need to have lunch with a friend?  Should I extend the invitation?

Is there a word I need to speak, an offering of encouragement and a “you can do this” a person longs to hear?  Is someone waiting for an “I love you” from me?  Or “I’m sorry” or “I forgive you.”  How about those who need my witness and my question, “Do you know my Savior?”

What is the special occasion I’m waiting for when the time is right?  When will the time be right?

Time is short and life is uncertain.  I have this day to live but not the promise of tomorrow.  I recall the admonishment to make the most of every opportunity.  Am I?

I left the sale not wanting to wait for special occasions to enjoy the bounty of God’s gifts nor to neglect to share them with others.

I was holding the set of sheets in my hands as I walked to my car.

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What are you waiting for?  

Thoughts of my son on Mother’s Day

For the second time since becoming a mother, I will celebrate Mother’s Day without my one and only child, my son in whom I am well pleased.

After he married, he lived close enough to our house for more than 14 years.  Not so now.  He moved miles away in 2011, taking his sweet wife and his three children, our only grandchildren.  I have not gotten over it yet.  I don’t think I will.

I’m aware that many moms do not get to spend Mother’s Day with their children.  Bear with me.  I am still trying to adjust to it.

My thoughts are on my son this day, the babe in my arms, the toddler waking in the middle of the night, the boy riding his bike saying, “Watch me, Mom,” the teenager taking the car alone for the first time as I stand at the window and pray for him, the man who took a wife with all its responsibilities, the young father who made me a grandmother.

I think of him with tenderness.  The struggles of parenting don’t matter any more.  I just remember the joy of being his mom.

His birth changed my life forever in ways he will never know.  But I will always thank God for it.

Bill and me, pregnant 1973My very first Mother’s Day picture was taken in 1973 while I was about 8 months pregnant.  The handsome man beside me is my Sweet William.  I was full, like the moon.  My belly was big, my smile was bigger.  My hair looked stupid – it was the 1970’s.

Big as a barrel and happy about it.  I loved wearing maternity clothes and sewed most of them myself.  People thought I was having a girl by the way I carried the baby.  One friend told me she could not imagine me with a boy; it had to be a girl.   Did she think I was I too prissy to mother a boy?

Yet a boy child is what the Lord gave us.

And what a joy that boy was, a tiny little found-faced creature.  I felt the weight of the world as the nurse placed him in my arms the first time.  How was it possible that the Lord Almighty had entrusted this tiny helpless human being, this everlasting soul to Bill and me?   I knew nothing about rearing a child except what I had seen my own parents do.  They did it so well.  So I tried to do it like they did.  I failed often.

I was cross too many times.  I expected a lot.  I doled out punishment when I could have given more grace.  I should have played more and cleaned less.  I wanted to be such a perfect mother.  But I was not.  I did what I thought was best.  It wasn’t always.

Oh, but I loved that boy with all my heart, and I prayed to be a good mother.  The Father took the feebleness of my efforts coupled with my prayers, and miraculously made a fine man from my tattered efforts.  What a great miracle that He took what little I had to offer and redeemed it to create something good and wonderful.

I wish I had understood more and acted differently when Travis was small, growing up, emerging into a teenager, becoming a man.  I wish I could undo some events and wash away others.  But alas, the days have gone by and I am left with the memories of them.

My son grew to be a good man.  He adores his wife, loves and plays with his children.  He takes his role as provider and spiritual leader seriously.  He loves the Father above and seeks to do His will.

I’m thankful for grace that accomplished much with what I gave to this son of mine.  I call him my Son of Consolation because he brightened my darkness and lightened my heart.  Truth be told, he has done more for me than I think I ever did for him.

To my son I would say:  Never could I have imagined the joy, the pain, the surprises, the laughter, the delight, the tears, the wakeful nights or the fun-filled days of being your mom.  You are a treasure to my heart.  Though the birth cord was cut when you were born, the cord that connects my heart to yours is never severed.

I love you, son.

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So this is life?

009The call came early, before the first pot of coffee was emptied.  “Your dad is on the way to the emergency room.”

I ask a few questions, assume auto pilot to get myself dressed and to the hospital.  It will be the first time Dad has ever been in the hospital.  Ever.  It must be bad for him to submit to an ambulance, to poking and prodding, to needles and hospital beds.

Blood is drawn from small veins.  Tape attaches to paper-thin skin.  IV needles invade his body in too many places.  He looks uncomfortable yet submissive and compliant.  He cries out in pain, grimaces. And is there a gentle procedure in a hospital?

News travels.  Channels of information run quickly to family and friends.  Facebook posts prayer requests.  Responses simply say “praying.”  And praying is always more than just a simple response.

People come to sit with my step-mother and me, to share our angst, to whisper silent prayers.  To tell their stories of my father.  Stories that reveal a compassionate heart, a tender concern, a promise made to pray and a promise kept.  And lives are changed by the power of the almighty God my father serves.

Tests reveal infection.  Pneumonia.  Internal problems.  The heart beats regularly, not strong but true and faithful.

Dad is frail and thin, a mere wisp of the man he was when I was a child.

He was a builder by trade and craft, a carpenter, like Jesus, with strong muscular chest and arms.  I felt safe with him.  He was always busy building.  Houses, churches, businesses, play houses for his little girl, dog houses for her pets.

When he was in the prime of his life, the Lord called him to build people.  He exchanged his nail apron for a towel and wash basin, the garb of a servant.  He visited, counseled, encouraged, taught, and built up the kingdom.  His materials were the eternal kind, not the wood and stubble used to build the kingdoms of this world.

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He lies still, breathing regularly but not full and deep.  He has few teeth now and his mouth hangs slightly open.  His hairs are white and fine, barely covering his scalp. His face is sunken, showing the outline of the skull, fine wrinkles on skin that covers but just barely.

I stand in the doorway gazing at the ravages of sickness, the strong hold of a sin-cursed world on these earthly bodies to the very end, even those who are sanctuaries to the very presence of the Almighty.

And I ask myself, so this is life?  Is this how a life ends?

He was once a sturdy man, strong and capable, working long hours and toiling hard.  It seems he has always taken care of others.  He marched off to war to help defend his country.  He stayed at the task until it was done no matter the cost to himself.    Now he can barely lift his hand.  Unable to speak clearly, unable to chew food, unable to hear the conversation, unable to hold a glass of water to his parched lips.

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I’ve seen this happen before.  I’ve watched this same struggle as other loved ones came to stand at Jordan’s stormy banks, casting a wishful eye to the other side.

So this is life?

The days of sitting in the hospital give me time, time to think and remember.  Time to hear how my Dad’s life and prayers and teaching the Word and loving people are living on.  His life, the one lived for his Lord, is not lying in a hospital bed languishing between white sheets.  It was cast upon the waters of service, and it has not returned void.

The breath of life may be slipping away in the body that holds my dad’s spirit and soul.  But the life he lived in Christ lives on in me.  In others.

I hear it from their own lips, the fruit of his labors bearing fruit in their own lives.  Prison ministry.  Wisdom to raise a child in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  Deliverance from an addiction to pornography.  Marriages salvaged.  Demons cast out.  Broken hearts mended.  Encouragement to keep pressing on.  Proclaiming the Lord’s return and people get ready!

Jesus said, “. . . whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.”  Dad wore himself out in his servant’s role.

And I see that THIS IS LIFE!  This is how to live.

It is not in gaining the world but in giving oneself away.  This is life!  Proclaiming to any who will listen the goodness of God and the salvation He provided.  This is life!  To visit the widows and care for the orphans and the lonely and the unlovable.  This is life!  The way it was meant to be lived and used up and wasted away for the sake of the Gospel.

This is a man who spent himself on others.  Even now in mere whispers, he  prays for those visiting him in his shadowy hospital room.

In the stillness of the evening, I hear him say it softly.  “Praise You God.  Praise You God.”  The Father knows this man’s voice.  He has heard it countless times as he  daily knelt by his chair to pray, as he prayer-walked every night for how many years (?) as long as he was able.  His voice has called out my name in prayer countless times, and I see that I have been left an amazing heritage.

A life lived this way has no fear of what is left of it or how it will end or what lies beyond when he breathes his last.  His times are in His Father’s hand.

So this is life and the way it should be lived?  Yes, it is!  Of this I am sure.