Archive for February, 2011

Monday’s Musings—A Caring Life

‘My body is theirs to do what they want with it.’ That is what S. M. said of his captors.

He’s awaiting execution by hanging in Afghanistan. His crime—converting to Christianity. He’s been beaten, tortured, and sexually abused for his faith. Formerly a Red Cross worker, he is a father and an amputee with a prosthetic leg.

Tom and I read a link to our Christian brother’s story on Facebook last night. We sat in our pale green bedroom as rose-scented candles reflected off of our queen-sized poster bed. We were speechless—so we prayed.

Tom began, “Lord, we have no idea what that is like. Encourage him.” He went on to pray for his family, his health, his life, his death, even his entrance into heaven. I couldn’t speak. Part of my family was hurting so I ached.

I don’t understand that. In the book, Trusting God, Jerry Bridges makes a Biblical case for God’s sovereignty, His wisdom, and His love. I shared that with my husband. The only thing we could come up with is that we as believers are aliens here, like Abraham, looking for a better land.

2 Corinthians 4: 16, 17 states: “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.”

It’s impossible to understand that with our finite minds, so it must be viewed through the lens of faith. The heart of trust.

But still, we care, we hurt, we pray.

Monday’s Musings—Valentine’s Day Memories

Women. Do you want a sensitive, thoughtful, caring husband? I have one word for you. Steroids.

I attended the Writing for the Soul Conference in Denver this week. I even went two days early to visit friends in Wyoming. (It’s the state below Montana and above Colorado.) So my husband was without me for six days. Add to that he had shingles. Broke out the day before I left. Sores covered the left side of his head, around his eye and under his neck. We visited the doctor and an eye specialist who loaded us down with approximately 5,439 pills for Tom to take several times a day. One of those meds was steroids.

I was concerned about leaving him, but he insisted. He texted me a few times with gruesome pics of his face, but seemed to be functioning fine. I arrived home Sunday evening to find a few spots on his forehead.

As you can imagine, I hardly thought about Valentine’s Day. We don’t pay much attention to it. Oh sure, the first ten years of our marriage, I waited for the perfect gift. There was always a gift, but rarely do gifts live up to a newly married woman’s expectations.

As the years went on, we discovered a better way to celebrate the Holiday. We went to the Hallmark section of our local grocery store and sifted through the choices. After about twenty minutes of reading we each chose a card. Then, with a grand gesture we’d present it to the other to read. We’d either laugh or cry, (depending on its sentiment), hug, kiss, AND THEN WE PUT THE CARD BACK IN THE RACK!

Fact is, I know my husband loves me. He doesn’t have to prove it. We’ve been dating once a week for about fifteen years. Just because it’s February 14th doesn’t make much difference.

So this year, I was expecting the same card-swap-thing. But, Tom bought me an actual gift. Gave it to me this morning. It was an old marshmallow tin with a sweet, sappy card, and a stuffed bear with Ghirardelli chocolates around its neck. It even sat on more chocolate. Not only was it the perfect gift, it brought back memories.

When we first met, I attended Asbury College in Kentucky. Tom lived in Florida. One day when I went to my mailbox, I found a large package. It contained a ham, cookies, chips, and a marshmallow tin. In the tin was a stuffed bear, a card, and a plane ticket to Florida.

So I’d like to think the romantic gift was born out of his intense love for me. But I’m leaning toward the steroids. He told me he bawled singing a song in church. Not that Tom doesn’t cry. Like when the Bucs got beat in the playoffs. Or when they had to postpone the Daytona 500. He confessed that he even got choked up talking about me when he was at dinner with our grad-school-daughter and college-student-son.

I’m feeling a little romantic myself. I think I might even buy him a card. Tomorrow—when it’s half price.

Great is Thy Faithfulness

I basked in the sanctuary of the church that I’d called home for twenty-six years. My throat constricted as we sang the words, “Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father. There is no shadow of turning with Thee.” I remembered the first time I sang those word with conviction.

It was my senior year at Asbury College. My life wasn’t turning out as I expected. My future was unclear, so I sang the hymn as I placed one foot in front of the other, rounding the athletic track, one precious word with each step. “Thou-chang-est-not-Thy-com-pas-sions-they-fail-not-as-Thou-hast-been-Thou-for-e-ver-wilt-be.”

I’d witnessed His faithfulness over the last three decades. In big problems and little annoyances, God proved faithful to me. In that very sanctuary I watched—awestruck, as my husband was baptized after 17 years of marriage. The Lord had been faithful in child rearing and in six difficult years of caregiving. What I knew of His faithfulness astounded me, yet I had no doubt that when I see Jesus and know what went on behind the scenes in my life, I’ll learn of the myriads of times He was faithful to me and I was clueless.

My life was about to take a turn. I’d be leaving my church home to take a step of faith. Tom and I would be moving to the country in North Carolina.

I glanced around. In front of me sat a couple that served in our church ever since I could remember. Married for 69 years, she was declining. He sat close to her, arm secured around frail shoulders. They sang of God’s faithfulness.

Behind me sat a couple that lost their son the previous week. Mid-thirties, the reason for his death remained a mystery. They sang of God’s faithfulness with grief-etched faces.

I knew of many experiencing financial difficulties. All across the congregation, there was a decoupage of God’s faithfulness. Layer upon layer of it. Years upon years of it.

During the middle of the worst difficulties, I had trouble seeing his care. But in retrospect, His providence is a masterpiece.

I just need to remember that.

Maybe you need to remember that, too.

A Caring Life—People

I entered the large store promptly at 7AM as the doors opened. Checking in, I noticed the clerk I’d known for years. I knew that her mother was about the same age as mine, and recently had been ill. I’d even added her to my prayer cards.

She was busy, so I made a mental note to see her on my way out.

After I finished shopping I headed toward the door.

“How’s your mom? I’ve been praying for you.”

Jan’s face clouded at the question. “They’ve had to restrain her because she’s had so many infections. Every time she gets a little weird, which is most of the time.”

“Is it a urinary tract infection?” I knew all about those. Dad had one most of the time. Trouble was, he never had the normal symptoms of fever and pain. He went straight to ‘crazy’. He was on an antibiotic most of the time, but days after they were gone, ‘crazy’ began again.

It was frustrating. For him, for Mom, for us.

I knew Jan’s look. It was exhausted, angry, sad, and overwhelmed all wrapped up in one.

“I think God is cruel,” she stated.

My heart hurt. “God isn’t cruel, Jan.”

“Mom has no life. She is just existing. I guess God isn’t cruel, but I don’t understand why He does things.”

Join the club. I watched as Dad lost his independence, his legs, and his will to live–all within a few short years.

Rarely do I know why God does things. But I know this; He is good, He is love, He is just, He is righteous, He is incomprehensible.

Even through those difficult years, I tasted His goodness. Now, in retrospect, I’m drinking it up.

My thoughts returned to Jan. Don’t know if she knows the Lord. That’s what my prayer card is asking. That she will know Jesus. I don’t have all the answers, but I have Him. That is enough.

“I’ll keep praying for you and your mom.” She thanked me.

As I drove home, I wondered about how many Jans there are in the world. I’m glad I took the time to care.