Monday, July 25, 2011

MercyMe - I Can Only Imagine - Music goes with post about Grandmothers



For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois, and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well. And for this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you…For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1: 5-7

My mother is named Sue Ann, not Eunice, and her mother was named Lois – and they both have passed on to me knowledge of their sincere faith. This generational faith also came from my father’s side of the family from many people, including his mother Rosa Ethel. My earliest memories are rooted in secure love, adoration and attention as I was in the privileged position of being the first grandchild. Mirroring God’s care for his children, my grandmothers showered me with unconditional love. I was bragged on and touted as being special, sweet, smart; wonderful words of praise occasionally tempered with gentle reminders, “Oh we don’t do that! No, no!” The bond between grandmothers and grandchildren is so accommodating and so forgiving and so centered in fiercely desiring only the best possible life for the young soul!

Along with some friends and family members, I have occasionally attended Circle of Light meetings with a lady who communicates with those who have passed on. My original purpose for going was to try to help friends who were suffering pain from loved ones they had lost, but I was stunned to have my grandmothers “speak” to me! They talked about light hearted things from my childhood like Juicy Fruit gum being stored in the kitchen drawer, Easter egg hunts in the yard – but Nana’s words also served to strengthen my faith when she said, “Remember, when I almost died?” Well yes, of course, how could I forget those tense moments when the family was lead into a special room at the hospital where the chaplain could speak to us in private! Her heart stopped but miraculously the medical team brought her back. Through the psychic, her words were encouraging to my faith in the mystery of afterlife – she said that if she had known what it was going to be like, she would have left us on that heart stop event – she said that it was better than we could ever imagine! I love that song…I Can Only Imagine.

During this strange meeting my grandmothers also tried to give me a message about a problem with gas. I started laughing, thinking that they were accusing me of passing gas in this group gathering. Then they tried to clarify – no it’s gas in a tank – so I was thinking that it was a problem with a tank at the Throckmorton ranch where cattle were watered. They kept telling me no, a tank, a problem with gas – but I never understood their communication while we were there. The meeting came to an end and my group piled into Darrell’s pickup that I had driven that night. We dropped off one friend and then drove on to the next house. When I parked in her driveway I noticed a warning light on the dash – we were perilously near to an empty tank of gas! Oh, I had a good laugh over finally understanding the insistent message from my grandmothers – they were still trying to protect me from the little trials of life! I did find a nearby Shell station and fill ‘er up!

Today I had the joy of my friend, a first time grandmamma, sharing a baby boy photo – he’s precious! While floating in the pool of another friend, our conversation stopped to sympathize by phone with her daughter’s tale of little grandson’s tender fingers touching the stove. Grandparent Camp, a yearly week of activity choices for their children’s offspring, always inspires me with ideas and future plans from another friend. With other friends, I share the wait of babies that are incubating in bellies waiting for their time to start in the world. I encourage each of you to cultivate your faith in the heart of that little one and give them the confidence of your unwavering love. I was so fortunate to have that special bond. My boys are continually blessed and strengthened in their lives by the prayers and support from their grandparents. The generations are called to pass on their ethics, their culture and their faith to those who come after us. Let us all take on that task with joy and thanksgiving!

2 Timothy 3:15 and that from childhood you have known the scriptures which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go. Even when he is old, he will not depart from it.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Promises to Keep

Promises to God

One of my favorite things about summer is free time for free reading. Having just finished a final book of a trilogy, I was ready for a new story when my friend Lynn posted a raving recommendation on Facebook of a bestseller she had just read – Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand – so I downloaded onto my iPad and started an amazing true tale. Not only was Louis Zamperini’s life story one of incredible inspiration, it was also an allegory of God’s unwavering call to all of us – “I am here; I love you; call on me for everything; look around and notice my work!”

In one of Louie’s trying moments during WWII, he honored the passing of a fellow soldier. “Louie wanted to give him a religious eulogy but didn’t know how, so he recited disjointed passages that he remembered from movies, ending with a few words about committing the body to the sea. And he prayed for himself and Phil, vowing that if God would save them, he would serve heaven forever.” For a long time, Louie forgot about his promise to God, but God did not forget about His promise – He kept watching Louie’s life progress and waiting for their next time of communication.

December 13, 1985 was a Friday the thirteenth, known as an unlucky day for the superstitious – for me a marker in my life to remember making a promise to God. It was the first snow of the fall. Deer hunters had been out during the day making tracks in the wilderness behind our home in the countryside of Indiana. Known as The Lost 500, the land behind and to the west of our house was a vast woodland that gave our small acreage privacy and pristine views. Jonathan was a kindergartener who was eager to go out and play in the snow after his day at Jones Elementary School. I helped him bundle up in his snowsuit, boots and gloves and let him out to enjoy the backyard with his dog, Scooby, while baby Travis napped in his crib and I watched TV news while starting dinner for the family. The weather reporter was predicting the coldest night of the year. Darrell came in the door from work and I opened the sliding glass back door to call Jonathan back in – but he wasn’t there. Neither was the dog. My heart was pounding as Darrell went out to find him. He came back after what seemed an eternity with descriptions of little boy boot prints and dog paw prints that criss- crossed with larger boot prints on the edge of the woods but no sighting of our son! We phoned for help and soon there was a search crew at our house – people from the sheriff’s department and the volunteer fire department. My neighbor, Dee, came to stay at the house with Travis so I could go out in the search. I don’t remember the exact amount of time that was passing as day turned to night but for me time was suspended – a million years converged with every minute, every heartbeat, and every breath. I fell down in the snow and begged with God to protect my son, “If you will save him, I will do anything for you – anything – anything!”

At some point Dee called me back in to the house. There was news from some firemen that Jonathan and Scooby were found coming out of the woods to the road several miles from our house. They were bringing him home in their pickup! Sweet relief – our family was spared from a big brush with tragic loss! Jonathan didn’t want to talk about his adventure/terror other than to say he just kept following his dog. We were so grateful for the people in the community who came out to help us, grateful to Scooby for leading Jonathan to eventual safety and grateful to God for answering that desperate prayer.

Thankfully, God forgives me for repeatedly failing to live up to my side of the bargain. Like Louie Zamperini, once my immediate ordeal was over I tended to not even give it thought. Have you ever made a promise to God? We in our broken human nature cannot live up to our best intentions. God in his divine nature will never fail in His promises.

Whenever Friday the thirteenth comes around I remember my feeble promise and I thought of it again today, Jonathan’s birthday. While celebrating turning 31 he is viewing God’s glorious creation from a famous mountain peak, Machu Picchu. I look forward to his story.

…and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Jesus’ words) Matthew 28:20

This also brings to mind a work by Robert Frost – thanks to Mrs. Brooks my old-fashioned 4th grade teacher who made us memorize and recite poetry to her each week.

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.

His house is in the village though;

He will not see me stopping here

To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer

To stop without a farmhouse near

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake

To ask if there is some mistake.

The only other sound's the sweep

Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.