Sister to Sister: Topic Needed Was Topic Assigned.

So today…

  1. My dad was a sleepy-head because he coughed all night long.
  2. He was nauseated because of the antibiotic he took for the coughing.
  3. He was also dehydrated because of the nausea, which was because of the antibiotic, which was because of the cough.
  4. I got all mixed up about the starting time of my ladies’ day and I got there an hour early on a morning when I really could have used a little sleep. 
  5. I stopped on the way home to take a very short nap in the car and my husband phoned to “check on me” just as soon as I drifted off. Time all up!
  6. When I got back to my dad’s house, he had once again lost his breakfast and had despairingly gone back to bed. 
  7. I tried to get him up to watch the Bama game with me, although what I really wanted to do was go to a hibernation hole somewhere. But just as I was hoisting him up, the doorbell rang and a stranger delivered the news that Dad’s little dog had been hit by a car. 
  8. I told my dad to lie back down and do not get up. I got in the SUV with a big blanket to go down the meadow and find Tommy, bleeding and addled. 
  9. It took about eight calls before I could find an open veterinary office. 
  10. The veterinarian projected that the minimum cost for the surgery likely needed is two thousand dollars.
  11. I made the sad decision to have the puppy euthanized. 
  12. I had the sad duty to tell my father about the puppy.

So today, I am thankful for:

  1. The steroid and antibiotic that gives me hope for a better night’s sleep tonight.
  2. Supper that has “stayed down” for almost three hours now. 
  3. Mixups that make me early, rather than late.
  4. A chance to talk to women from Philippians 4 about how it’s not what’s happening on a particular day that determines my contentment. It’s about the promised peace that passes understanding. Do you think God provides what we need as His children?!… that His Word throughly furnishes us?!  I needed to do that particular expository of the great chapter about rejoicing. 
  5. A husband who checks on me.
  6. A sweet cousin who helps me with dad when I have to be gone for a couple of hours, even on days when he is sick.
  7. A great Bama victory to keep my dad preoccupied during the sad afternoon’s business. 
  8. Neighbors who were kind enough to take care of Tommy and come and notify me.
  9. Understanding my father’s limited income and his sadness, a clinic that donated the euthanizing shot and the cremation.
  10. A husband who always helps with difficult decisions, and does it with logic and a level head.
  11. My dad who, even though he forgets a lot of things (like I do), has not forgotten the difference between human beings and his dog. He simply said. “Well, we did what we could.” 
  12. A pillow on that bed in the back room and a monitor so I can hear my father if he calls. And the Word I can read as I fall asleep on that pillow…so I can hear my Father as He calls.

Some days you just think about Philippians 4 and the wonderful things Paul said about contentment from a dank and dark prison cell. And then the things about which you’re anxious seem small—negligible. And the peace that passes all understanding guards your heart and mind. It’s been a good day….And tomorrow? It’s the day when we go and get all that encouragement from the family of God. I hope my dad is well enough to go and get that…and worship the God of peace.

Don’t Do the Bottom Dance!

 12961581_899337245299_646194236159384067_nI have to do one more graduation salute because my extraordinary niece, Miriam Sparks walked across that stage last Friday night at the North Alabama Christian School graduation. I could tell you how proud I am of her writing, but you can see for yourself here: http://www.tomorrowschurchtoday.com. (If you have teens or if you are a teen, you definitely want to be encouraged by this website.) I could go on about Miriam’s theatrical talent and the climactic end of her high school string of plays when she played the Velveteen Rabbit in a production by Carriage House Players. There were a few moments when I felt like I was on the front row of a Broadway production. She was seriously good, especially when they let her sing! I could add that she saved the day for me when she agreed to travel to Clarksville, TN last year to help me decorate for and prepare the rehearsal dinner for my son’s wedding. I did not even know how badly I needed her till we got that preparation underway. I could tell you about how influential Miriam has been as she has spoken in several spiritual venues for women and girls, even traveling to speak in a seminar in New Zealand. I could tell you about how she’s risen to the top among Lads to Leaders participants nationwide.  I’m proud that she’s been awarded at least three scholarships to Freed Hardeman University and that she will be rooming there with another very special niece, Song Nicholas, next year. So many doors opening and so many relationships about to happen. There’ll be tons of decisions in the next four or so years for Miriam, and sometimes she won’t even recognize the crucial moment when a decision will be larger than this life and have ramifications in eternity. 

My favorite thing about Miriam, though, is her perpetual optimism. Favorite phrases are “…but that was really okay, because…” or “…but it turned out better than we thought when…” or “…At first I thought ‘oh no!’, but then…” or  “…Wait, I’ve got an idea how we can fix this…”  She’s just never to be outdone. Satisfaction, for Miriam, is not contingent on circumstances.  Like Paul, she’s determined to be content in whatever state she finds herself (Phil. 4:11). Thus, her days have a happy soundtrack. She sings all the time she’s not talking!…and that’s not as much time for a melody as you might think!

My favorite Miriam story happened when she was just about three years old. I was keeping all four Sparks kids while their mom and dad were out of town. I explained to Miriam that I had to take Hannah to play rehearsal because she had to learn the dance for “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.” Now, I really did not mean a dance at all. It was more like a skip and a hop and a turn-around on the stage, as I recall. But nothing gets past Miriam. She gave me a little sermon right then and there, in a very high pitched little voice with an added thick southern drawl:

“Well, I don’t think Hannah should prob’ly be learnin’ to dance. And I ‘specially hope that she is not going to do the bottom dance ( hear bahhhh-tum day-unce), because the Bible says that people should only do the ‘bahhhtum day-unce’ when they are in their own house with their own family. That’s what the Bible says.”

Well, maybe Miriam didn’t have the exact wording of any Bible passage. But somebody had been doing a pretty good job of getting a concept in her little heart about how some things are just not appropriate for Christians. Every time I’ve presented a lesson that encourages Christians to chastity, I’ve thought about Miriam. So here’s to a song on your lips through every act that’s the musical of your life, Miriam Sparks. And here’s to never doing the bottom dance, unless you’re in your own house with your own family!