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Lee Holder

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Where Is Your Sting?–Part 6

The Sting of Death is Absence.

There are four large oak trees growing on the property of the Jacksonville Church of Christ that were planted some seventy-five years ago by my father. The trees are a reminder to me that there was a day when a very young version of my Dad went with my Uncle Clifford Smith to bargain for some land on which to build a new meeting house for the Jacksonville church. One day, just a few months later, Dad went to get some oak saplings from his brother to plant on the newly-purchased land. The trunks of the oaks are places where children play hide and seek today and the branches provide ample shade around the building and the accompanying fellowship hall. They are a reminder that the plants have outlived the planter. 

If absence makes the heart grow fonder, then it’s no wonder that children remember all the good times so readily when a parent leaves them behind, because suddenly life is saturated with the absence of that beloved mentor. That’s just one more aspect of death’s sting. This week I’ve been wading through lots of pots and pans, piles of old photos, heavy pieces of furniture, books, bedding, blue Mason jars and other various piles and containers from house, barn and workshop. Of course, the obvious truth that the work and collection outlives the worker  and collector shouts from every box, basket, pile, and parcel.

The words my sister said earlier in the week, as we were struggling (we all want to defer to the other) to divide up the old quilts, knives, pocket watches, rings, Bibles , etc…keep resounding: “We all know we can’t have what we really want, so this is really hard.” 

Absence is hard. Ezra, who is three, looked at the big laundry basket of toys that I brought home from Dad’s. “But,” he objected. “Doze are Piedaddy’s toys and we need to take dem back to his house, because he needs dem.”

Absence is hard. But the best truth is…absence in our little sphere, of course, means presence in God’s big and eternal one. That reality reminds me of three  important and reassuring things, today.

  1. Reminders of a good life are plentiful and, though they signal absence, they keep on providing good things for those who are still on the journey. A mother’s marked Bible, a good climbing tree, an iron swing set that’s so strong that only the trumpet’s blow will signal it’s end…all of these  keep telling us about a good provider who still, in may ways, does. 
  2. What we “want” is not always really what we want, at all. God is infinitely good and completely cares for his people. Ezra will learn soon enough that Piedaddy does not need anything!
  3. The giver of these left-behind treasures—the humble sharecropper’s son—knew the Giver. He knew the real sense in which all of us are sharecroppers. We are all just “farming Someone else’s land” as we sojourn here.
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Where is Your Sting?

It has come…that quiet moment when everyone has finally left Serenity after lots of noise, many tears and lots of jubilant celebration, too. My father gently passed from this life to an infinitely better one in the early hours of December 5th—29 days ago. Since that moment there’s hardly been another gentle moment, as a memorial service, that ended up being in the midst of a snowy blizzard (that my father would have loved), was planned and executed, albeit with far fewer present to memorialize than we had envisioned. Roads were closed that morning in Jacksonville, Alabama, and metaphorically, lots of roads in my world have remained closed from that day to this one.

The road to reflection has been mostly blocked by the hubbub of cherished family in my house. The road to gratitude has been largely closed because it has so many lanes—so many people I need to profoundly thank—that the job of thankfulness that I love has been overwhelming and has been mostly “on hold.” The path of Bible study and prayer has been a rocky one, too; so many interruptions each time I’ve been in the “kneeling” position before the Word or in petition before Him. Mountains of laundry, cooking, cleaning up messes made by children whose company, hugs and antics I would not trade for anything—all of these have been tasks that have lovingly blockaded more peaceful, but often painful jobs. I’m very thankful for holiday “stress” this year. It somehow masked the pain that, even in the midst of the hurrying, sometimes crept into the recesses of heart and memory. I could easily postpone an aching heart in the ministry to  family and I am thankful for that dulling of the ache. There was very little sleep during the holidays, but I mostly exchanged that for uninterrupted celebration…and that was a good thing. 

But here’s the day of quietness. I am sitting here in this house that’s totally plundered—still littered with baby crumbs, wrapping paper, puppy toys and unfolded laundry, but the quiet is deafening now.  There’s a CPAP machine in the closet that needs to be returned, clothing that’s my dad’s that needs…what does it need, anyway?…throwing out? (That’s for another day.) There are death certificates that must be mailed and there’s a tax form that must be FOUND.  (Why am I always paying a price for being so scattered?) I know now’s the time I’ve anticipated, both fondly and with dread. 

I also know that there is absolutely NO reason for sadness. My father was ninety-five. He was a faithful Christian. He has a new body that never hurts or struggles. He is united with my mother and loved ones. He is, in short, perfected…fit for heaven. His transport was with angels. His destination of complete rest and bliss has been reached. So why should I be sad? I know there are those of you who are reading who would give anything to be in my shoes regarding deceased parents. 

The sadness, of course, is all wrapped up in the human struggle. Death, without the power that is in the resurrection of Jesus, stings (I Corinthians 15:54-57). Death, in a battle against humanity, is always the victor. But, in a battle where Christ is on my side, death is the victim. It is powerless. 

So faith in Him—Bible study, prayer, viewing Him in the circumstances of providence around me, the strength of fellowship—FAITH is what I so desperately need in the shadow of the death of one so loved. And I will persevere to grow in the faith that overcomes the sting that can be masked, but not erased without Jesus, the Victor. 

Until you get your note, thank you to hundreds who have reached out in so many ways. You have sent messages of condolence in email, phone texting and Facebook. You have contributed to the scholarship fund that honors the memory of our mother and dad. You have sent postal cards and letters by the scores (I’m sure there are a couple of hundred in there in my big porcelain bowl.) Children have drawn happy pictures and groups of Diggers have sent cards and even gifts. I am immersed in comforting fellowship and blessed beyond measure. Your prayers have been the greatest of gifts. 

So, in the words of my three-year-old grandson, Ezra, “Why are you sad? We should be happy if Piedaddy is with Jesus. I would like that.” 

Here’s the latest conversation in our Bible time from last Sunday night. 

Me: “Ezra, we are going to Piedaddy’s house tomorrow for our Christmas.”

Hannah: “But you know Piedaddy will not be there.”

Ezra: “Because he is in heaven with Jesus. And that man in the box at Piedaddy’s Bible class was not really Piedaddy. It was just not him.”

Hannah: “Well, it was just a little part of him. The real Piedaddy is with Jesus. And he is not sick  anymore. And he can run and jump and play.”

Ezra: “You mean he does not have to have his walker anymore, even?”

Me: “Right. He can do anything he wants to do and he is very happy.”

Hannah: “And when we get through living here, we will get to go be with him and it will be so happy!”

Ezra: “But how will we get there?”

Me: “Well, one day there will be a very loud trumpet that blows and we will look up and we will see Jesus coming in the clouds and we will get to fly up there and meet him.”

Ezra: “Will we get to go in a helicopter?”

Me: “No, we will get to fly just like a bird with nothing to take us.”

Ezra: “You mean it will be like a super-hero?”

Ben: “Yes, like a super-hero.”

Me: “And we will just fly on to heaven with Him.” 

Ezra: “But I “fink” that loud trumpet will be ‘keery’” (scary).

Hannah: “ Oh no, you will love it. All of us will be there with you and when you get through flying,  everyone you love will all be in the same place.”

Glenn: “Oh no, Ezra. You will not be scared. I promise. You will be so excited to see Jesus. And then when we get to heaven, there will never be anything else to make us sad or hurt us.”

Hannah: “You will never fall and skin your knee. You will never get sick and have a fever.”

Me: “You will never get burned by any stove or fire. You will never cough or cry or hurt at all.”

Ezra: “Well, that will be great, but I still think “dat woud twumpet will be a wittle keery.”

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Guest Writer, Sami Nicholas: Mothers, Don’t Miss a Beat from this Heart!

Today’s post needs no commentary. It may be my favorite post of all the years of posting. It’s written by my sister (in the flesh), Sami Nicholas, in anticipation of her first grandchild. It was penned by the bedside of our dying father on the day that his weak heart heard our new baby’s healthy one. At that time, we had high hopes that our father would be able to hold this new life in his arms. That was not to be. But he  was already holding this child in his heart. Since this writing, the remnant of that generation of our family has rolled on into eternity.

 I do not need to analyze this letter for you. I just want to emphasize that it’s full of truth for generations rolling on. Although intended for a tiny unborn baby, I’ve never seen truth-in-love written more poignantly for mothers and grandmothers.

November 14, 2017

Dear Pumpkin Seed,

Yesterday, I heard your heart. What an absolute joy it was to know that life-giving blood was moving through your little body.  At the same time that I was relieved and thankful that your heart seems healthy and strong, I sat by the hospital bed of your oldest relative whose heart is not beating quite so strongly. Pie-daddy had already talked about you during the day….about how your Pa and Mama were going to give us a baby. He wondered about whether you would be a boy or girl. When I received the sound of your beating heart, he listened attentively. He already likes you.

As I sat there, amazed at the beauty and strength of your heartbeat, I watched the technicians looking at the ultrasound of Pie-daddy’s less-than-perfect one.  Yet, I knew that the heart that matters eternally in each of you was healthy and strong. One had endured a lot of tests and changes. The other was clean, innocent, and new.  But if God grants our prayers, yours will grow and develop. As you build that eternal heart, there are many ways in which I hope it will become like his.

I hope that your heart always honors and craves God’s Word. I have watched year-upon-year, your Pie-daddy sitting in his chair or on the patio reading his Bible everyday, a part of the routine. I hope your Mama and Daddy will make God’s Word a part of your daily routine as soon as those little eyes open. I hope they share Bible songs and Bible stories. Then, when you get big enough to read, I hope you read and study truths from God everyday. “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee” (Psalm 119:11). I hope you are always hiding.

I hope that your heart will always desire to do the right thing, even if it means changing. There have been many times when I’ve watched Pie-daddy, upon realizing that something he had said or done was not the best Christian course, back up and apologize or change his mind. Sometimes it took a few hours or days, but he wanted to be pliable to God’s will. I hope you always have such a heart. Right now, you have a perfect heart, but as you get older, you, like all of us will slip and stumble. It’s impossible to be perfect, but I pray that you will have a penitent heart that wants to do right and fix wrongs. “But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word” (Isaiah 66:2). May you always live so He will look.

I hope that your heart always wants to gather with God’s people at every opportunity. Sunday morning, your Pie-daddy had been wrestling with pneumonia, shortness of breath, and general weakness, but the sounds of him getting up at 5:30 to get ready for worship awakened me. You see, he makes that a priority. Even when it takes him 4 hours to prepare to go, he allows the time and begins the process, because he believes that worship “provokes us to good works” and we are “not to forsake” that gathering (Hebrews 10:24,25).

I also hope that your heart genuinely loves other people. Often, Pie-daddy will get tears in his eyes as he talks about another brother or sister in Christ who has shared time with him. He will sniffle as he mentions the struggles someone is going through. His door is always open, and always has been, to visitors. He cares about children. I remember when I was a child and he was struggling to buy groceries and pay the bills with six people in one household, Pie-daddy would, without fail, for years and years, make a small monthly contribution to a children’s home far away. This was in addition to what he normally gave to the church. He cared about little children and wanted them to have what they needed. “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). I hope you have a weight-bearing heart.

I hope you have a heart that hates evil. Pie-daddy can get mad. He gets mad every time we pass the liquor store just a couple of miles from his house. He comments on the fact that the man who owns it is sinful. He gets mad at the immorality and language on television. He won’t have that playing in his house. He gets mad at husbands who are not faithful to their wives and refuse to change. He understands that, despite the fact that we love everyone, we must acknowledge that there are bad guys out there. He knows that evil is evil. He believes God when he says, “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20). Have a heart that gets mad.

One last thing…I hope you have a heart that loves your family. Pie-daddy is stellar when it comes to this. I can look across any room of my house and see little projects he made for us…wagons, rocky horses, marble mazes, stilts. When he was 87, he had a basketball court poured, and he got on his hands and knees and painted the lines for the court, so his grandchildren would have a place to play. All of his children and grandchildren have nicknames, their assigned special title from him. If he is able, I know he will have a nickname for you. He would do anything to help his family, and he doesn’t mind telling others how special his family is to him. He doesn’t endorse us if we do wrong, but he encourages us in everything we do that is right. “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children” (Proverbs 13:22). Have the heart that passes on a godly inheritance.

 

I have a lot of dreams for you, little Pumpkin Seed. I want you to be happy. I want you to be blessed. I want you to go to heaven. I know the key to all of this is a healthy heart. May it always keep beating.

Love you immeasurably, 

Doodle (or whatever you decide to call me) 

 

(Photo is my dad on his last birthday in October.  His gift from the Abel Nicholases was the news of the “pumpkin seed.”)

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Dad Planted Acorns

Memories are a big part of what gets you through the days of inevitable grief when you lose a dear one to death. I’ve been amazed the past couple of days at how many times I’ve panicked thinking “Oh no. Who is taking care of Dad? Am I supposed to be there?” And then I remember the painful reality is that I will see his body tomorrow, but not HIM. I’ll have to wait a while to see the new “him.” When I do, I will know him and we will have forever to reminisce and catch up.

 

And then I go to the only place I can see him with clarity and detail–my memory bank. Here is one memory from 2010 about a “roasting” of my dad in his Prime-Timers group. I’m glad I wrote about it that night when I got home because, every time I read it, the sweet memory is newly etched in my heart. I know there are blessings all around and all 58 years that I’ve had my dad have been nothing but gifts. I know he is in glory. I know he is wholly healed.  In fact, I cannot understand why my heart hurts this week; I just know it does. I think God must give daughters who have good dads a special insight into what devotion to a father is like, so they can be all the more devoted in service to THE Father. I hope it can be true, in my case, anyway. 

Here’s a good memory from the archives. It was written during  my dad’s 88th year:

 

Tonight I went back to the fellowship hall of the congregation where I attended the first five years of my life for a get-together of those sixty-ish and above. My dad is eighty-seven, so he is definitely the senior member of the senior group. He sometimes talks about how it’s fun to go be with those people except “some of them are just really old.” He sometimes tells me on those Thursday nights that he’s going to meet with  the “Alzheimer’s group.”  Tonight Dad took pimiento and cheese sandwiches and egg salad sandwiches. His egg salad is the best ever.

It was really fun to visit with them tonight because it was the night they were having a surprise roast—sort of a mini “This is Your Life,” for Dad. Both of my sisters were able to make it and all of his grandchildren except for my two were also able to be there. We listened as Robert Whiten and Homer Smith said some funny things about my dad; some stories from when he was a kid like how he tore apart a Victrola when he was a small boy so he could see the tiny people inside who were singing; and some stories from now, when he’s old,  like how he accidentally microwaved his hearing aid in a bowl of jelly beans. There were some stories about his extreme frugality and some memories about his football and coaching days. There were a lot of things said that made me miss my mother and be really glad for the longevity of Daddy’s good life.

And then there was some serious stuff about how he had some good parenting ideas that somehow worked to make us all grow up to be Christians. There was a reading from Ephesians 6:4 about fathers training their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. There was a little history of the Jacksonville church; how that Daddy was one of the trustees when the property on which the building now sits was purchased back in the 1950s (he helped negotiate that deal); how that he led the singing on the first Sunday night in that old building. Someone in her sixties from the audience spoke up and said that he was her Sunday school teacher when she was a kid back in the old building that pre-dates the present location. Then someone pointed out that Daddy had planted 10 oak saplings in the churchyard back in 1959, when the property was newly purchased.

Now I’m sure that when Dad planted those trees, he didn’t think about how that his grandchildren would one day play under the shade of those trees. He didn’t think about the hiding places that those trees would afford kids in games of hide and seek. He probably didn’t think that one day the architects for the fellowship hall would give attention to the placement of one or two of those trees. He probably didn’t think about the preacher’s kids climbing them and tire swings perhaps hanging from them in the days when they provided shade for the preacher’s house that hadn’t even been built at that time but has now been removed. In fact, he probably planted those trees on a regular day, when he was thinking more about his job, his household budget, his wife and son, and the baby they were expecting (that would be me) and the new house he was buying about that time. He probably was sweating when he climbed back into his pick-up after digging those holes, unloading those little trees and packing the dirt back around them. He was probably thinking about supper that night, but not about a fellowship supper that might occur 50 years later at a VBS under the shade of a big tree you could no longer get your arms around.

Four of those trees remain today. They still make homes for birds and squirrels and they still make piles of leaves for kids in the fall…and they still make acorns which still hold the germ of life from that one acorn that first grew the sapling.

Well, I’m no philosopher, but it strikes me that there’s still a lot to be said for the ordinary life. It starts as something very unremarkable. My dad was just the son of a sharecropper. It just takes ordinary days … days of planting seeds; then days of dependence on God for the rain and the sunshine.  Mother and Daddy were given four tender hearts into which the Word of God could be planted. They did this, in the most natural ways through days that have all run together now– in conversations, in choosing faithful bodies of God’s people wherever we lived, and in sacrificially making Christian education possible for us. They did it in benevolent actions toward friendless people and in going out of our way to pick up children we invited to worship with us; children that sometimes didn’t smell good. They did it by always being at every visitation meeting, working the bus route to bring kids to church and then going to every assembly thirty minutes early so we could go pick up the kids who signed up to come. Of course that meant staying thirty minutes late to deliver them home, too. It meant taking our friends who were from un-churched homes to Woody’s Drive –In for ice cream after services. (You know, one of my girlfriends from childhood who had no mom at home is now faithful and married to a deacon in the church in Virginia Beach? We made lots of trip to her house to pick her up for services and I helped her get the baptismal robes on when she was baptized.) It meant teaching us to use those old Jule Miller filmstrips and providing the cookies when we did show them to our friends. It meant sending us up the street to pass out invitations every time we had a gospel meeting. It meant occasionally walking a couple of miles in the snow when we couldn’t get down the mountain on Sunday morning in a car. It just meant lots of different things that we thought were very ordinary. As a matter of fact, I’ve never really thought about my dad’s life as being anything out of the ordinary at all.  In fact, it really hasn’t been.

But God can use even the ordinary for His glory. He does it all the time. He took a little boy’s loaves and fishes, a widow’s mite, a shepherd’s rod, a few pitchers of water and, thankfully, a baby in a manger and provided what multitudes desperately needed. Whatever I have to give Him is surely meager. My time is so finite, my power so limited, my wisdom so irrelevant and my mortality so evident. But He can take my meager and make it mighty. He can take my finite and make it infinite. He can give my wisdom relevance and He clothes my mortality with immortality (I Corinthians 15:54).

I’m glad my mother and dad planted acorns on all those ordinary days—really glad.

 

Tomorrow will be another memory of an ordinary, although very difficult day. But one day…ahh, one day will be extraordinary.That trumpet will blow, we will rise and nothing will be ordinary ever again!

Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

Sister to Sister: Are You Trying to Say “I Love You?”

Tonight in this hospital room, this daughter experienced a few very sweet moments. I will treasure them in memory whether my dad and I have lots of future sweet moments in time or not. As today has gone by, my Father who has said precious little, and only in in breathy, labored tones for several days, has become more and more alert. Mind you, what you might think is pretty much asleep all day was still more alert to those who have been keeping this vigil. 

Every time I see his eyes open, I try to go to his side and grab his hand. Tonight he grabbed right back. He even gave me his signature quick nod of recognition. 

Then I always think of everything I can talk about in his one ear that now has a hearing aid. (The other hearing aid was crushed on the floor of the ambulance—and that was another story as Sami chased the driver down and out of the building to try and find the missing hearing aid.) I talked about football. I talked about getting better. I talked about what I was eating and about breathing treatments. And then I told him I loved him. He slowly forced out the “I” and then put his very sore tongue to the roof of his very blistered mouth to make that “L” sound. 

I said “Are you trying to say “I love you?” 

“Yeah” he said. 

That’s all I needed to hear to be okay through this long night. Such a great little present for a this weary pilgrim. But that was not all. I asked him if he wanted me to read the Bible. This time I got a clear “Uh-huh.” 

Before the hospitalization, we’d been reading in Acts and we were ready for chapter seven, so I read the story of Joseph to Him as told by the first martyr, Stephen. I think I was reading so that all the staff out at the nurses station could probably hear. When I got to the resolution part about Jacob going down to Egypt, Dad just drifted back off to sleep.  

I’ll take it. A few minutes of communication is a great source of comfort in this very well-lit, bustling, but yet, very lonely room. It is the best one of today. There are a few lessons in every gift. Here are tonight’s five lessons. 

  1. “Yeah” is easier to say than “I love you.” . That’s true in just about every relationship. Short answer quizzes in families and friendships are just easier.  Sometimes in all kinds of life problems, we have to help each other say those three words. It’s always better, if someone’s having trouble saying them, to assume he means them till you know differently.
  2. You never know the value of healthy communication until you have to do without it. So don’t let days go by—days when you could be talking and sharing with the ones you love. Don’t let those days escape while you pout or exchange the silent treatment or engage in hurtful communication. Especially, don’t do this in your marriage. You will experience deep regret.
  3. Only the people you’ve really loved with agape can appreciate fully the three words when you say them. See, Daddy did not love me just enough to share some material blessing with me (although he certainly worked hard to do that). He did not just love me enough to put up with my inadequacies (although he surely was in the next room during the messy, late- night-studying, bathroom-hogging teen years). He did not just love me enough to build things in the wood shop for Christmas (although there was the doll bed and the cabinet for my tea set during the sixties and the wooden purse, stilts and shuffle board game of the seventies and the marble mazes and rocking horses and graduation banks for grandchildren of the eighties). He, along with my mother, who was also sharing and making and building, loved me enough to give their lives for me, if needed. They loved me enough to pray about inadequacies and to correct them. They loved me enough to build more than toys and purses. They loved me enough to build character. That’s the most enduring home-made gift.
  4. There’s something very ironic about the goal. Heaven is THE goal. Ironically, God has placed in us a very strong desire to keep our loved ones here with us rather than to be completely willing to have them go and be with the Lord. I cannot fully explain that fierce desire to preserve and protect feeble life. But I know it is right to have it. It is right to protect and preserve life, because that defense is innately built into the moral compass of people of conscience. One has to be trained to devalue life. It is not the natural affection of Romans 1: 31 and 2 Timothy 3:3. So I grab that hand and it’s the best when he grabs it right back.
  5. There’s great comfort—always, in all ways— in the Word. There’s an amazing example, for instance, of the application of Romans 8:28 in that ancient account of Joseph in Egypt. We get to look at how a faithful person perseveres when there are family members who are spiteful or friends who falsely accuse or forget about the good things we do for them. We get to see, up-close and personally, how the  faithful react to both poverty and riches. Sometimes, when we are weary, there’s so much comfort that we can go right off to a deep and peaceful sleep while reading the Word. I think I can maybe even do that tonight…right here in this chair. 
Bless Your Heart by Cindy Colley

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.