Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Dearest and Only Daughter

I found this note from my wife to our daughter while looking through the documents file for an article. It seems appropriate to post it with Mother's Day so near. If you are a mom, I'm sure you love your daughter(s) in the manner described here. If you are a daughter and have a beautiful mother like this, love her while you still have her. If she has gone on ahead, rejoice in your memories of her.

My Dearest and Only Daughter,

I saw you and held you for the first time when you were only minutes old. If God is love, then only a parent can know what love really means. To love someone who came from you, this is what a mother’s love is and this is the love I feel for you, my child.

It is a kind of love that knows pain. Like the time when you wouldn’t take a bottle and I had to take you to the hospital. Or the time you fell out of Aunt Pat’s truck and got a big goose egg on your head. Or your first day of kindergarten. You cried as I was leaving and I went home and cried too because I knew that you missed me and were sad.

It is a kind of love that knows fear and I’ll never forget the fear I felt (every mother’s worst fear) when you disappeared out of the yard at Alligator. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared. Or so happy and mad at the same time when I found you. I whipped you all the way home and I’m sure I cried harder than you while I was doing it.

It is the kind of love that knows pride, the kind of pride that can only come when a dear daughter does well. Like the day you graduated with honors. I couldn’t have been prouder if I had been the one graduating.

You’re all grown up now and a young woman out in the world. I still love you and always will. My heart still breaks when your heart hurts. I fear for you and pray God’s protection for you every night before I go to bed. And I am still proud of you though you might not think I am sometimes.

You are still my baby and always will be until I die and even after that. I love you with all that I am and have.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

New Song, Old Friends

...yet God has put eternity into the heart of man...Ecclesiastes 3:11b

When I am driving through the hills of NW TN, I think of more strange and wonderful things than Tiny Tim in church.

What would it be like, I found myself wondering, as I topped a hill to observe a favorite view, to go to sleep in your own bed and wake up in heaven?

What would be the first thing that you would see? What glorious vistas? Whose precious face?

To go out in joy. To be led forth in peace.

Mountains and hills singing? Trees clapping their hands? These things I am promised.

And one more thing: I will know as I am known. In the fullness of His love.

I look forward to that.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Thanks For the Dance

...and the ones left standing, carry on. -Wayne Watson

Of course we husbands and wives are to faithfully minister to and lovingly serve each other. Christianity 101, right?

The thing is, there are apparently times when this might be the husband's or the wife's primary ministry in his or her life of faith: to nurture, support, edify and at times, simply to love that spouse God has given you.

We say as much in our wedding vows, don't we?

So I feel kinda dumb and very undiscerning to have realized this truth after the fact, as it were.
To tell the truth, I also feel just a little ungrateful, after so many prayers for guidance and employment in kingdom service, not to recognize that God had me exactly where He wanted me to be, all along.

The revealing I prayed for has come at last and it may be that this too, has come at exactly the right time.

I am grateful, upon reflection, for the opportunity to have served Ms. Joycie; grateful for the opportunity to have been part of and to have witnessed her growth as one of God's children.

I am grateful, in fact, for that slowness to understand that prevented me (I know me) from becoming puffed up or uppity.

I am also grateful to have witnessed the effect of her life, even in the face of her death, upon those around her.

The truth of Romans 8:28 is brought into laser-sharp focus as I observe those who had not considered their own mortality in the light of eternity, being brought into hard contact with this reality by the passing of one so dear.

So I ask you to pray with me. You might not know those of whom I speak. But know that there is clear evidence of the Spirit's working in their hearts which is firm ground for the hope of their salvation.

Pray for me as I witness. Pray for the dawning of light in their darkness.

And pray, giving thanks to God, for His mercy and goodness.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Night We Met

Thought I had posted this before, but I don't find it here. My apologies to those whom I referred to this non-existent post.

Anyway, here it is; the story of the beginning of a beautiful friendship:

We rolled into the nightclub, the band and I. We had just finished our gig and were visiting, as honored guests, friends of ours at their job. We were here to listen. We were here to party. We were here to jam.

I was dressed all in black, except for a skinny red tie, knotted loosely at the throat with the top two buttons of my shirt unfastened. I heard, “That’s the bass player,” as I walked past crowded tables to the front of the room, and a table beside the bandstand.

We sat with the band’s girlfriends and wives and listened and hollered and whistled as they finished their set. Lucy yelled, “Play Freebird!” at the band onstage and they cracked up. It was a running joke between us. The singer spoke into the mic, “We’ll save that one for later,” and announced a pause for the cause.

The jukebox came on and I wandered toward the bar to grab another beer.


I turned toward the voice and a woman motioned me to where she was sitting.

This girl here wants to dance with you.” She grinned and pointed. You were blushing prettily.

Well, come on and dance!” I invited.

You stood and stepped from behind the table; five foot two, a hundred pounds maybe. All in black. Like me. I backed onto the dance floor, watching you move toward me. You smiled then lowered your gaze, blushing again. Something slow was playing. I extended my arms and you stepped into them, placing your hand on my shoulder. I took your other hand in my left hand and with my right, encircled your waist. Such a tiny waist. We swayed to the music and you pressed your body into mine as I pulled you closer. Your cheek touched my cheek and I could feel the heat of that blush lingering. We didn’t speak. I was aware only of the pulsing of the music and the sensation of you against me, moving with me. I stepped more quickly to the beat and you were with me. I spun, then halted in mid-move and spun the other way. You were there. I clasped your hand to my chest and my right hand slid down to where I could feel your hips move and we danced as if we had always been dancing together like this.

I don’t know how long we danced. The music stopped and I pulled back a bit to look at you. I grinned and then held your hand as we walked across the dance floor. Something fast began to blare from the jukebox. Side-by-side, we did a few dance steps as we approached the table where your friends were sitting. I slipped my hand around your waist again and squeezed you to my side. Leaning over, I whispered in your ear.

Thanks for the dance.”

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Like a Benediction

...the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; -Numbers 6:25

That smile.

Someone remarked that she smiled with her whole face. We have pictures to prove it.

One of the things I would do early on was tease her when she would become out of sorts with me. Instead of calling her Joyce, I would say "Joyous."

Which she was most of the time.

I have been blessed to hear countless stories of small kindnesses. Things done out of a heart of childlike faith and love.

For those unable to attend the funeral, I truly wish I could describe the utter beauty of that which we experienced.

How our LORD blessed us and comforted us in every element of the service from Martha Kendall's ethereal rendition of the hymns contained in the prelude to Deon Barnes' loving reading of the obituary and his leading us in the Apostles' Creed to Brother Billy's simple but profound exposition on Joycie's favorite scripture,  Psalm 91.

She remarked, after we read it together last week: "You don't have to explain this one to me, I've got it."

She has truly gotten it.

 Joyous indeed.

And we are blessed with precious memories of that smile.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Our Night of Weeping

...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. -Psalm 30:5b

The LORD, in His wisdom, has taken from me my dearest friend.

I have been blessed.

Joycie and I recently celebrated thirty years together.

Last night, my daughters (Sandy and my adopted daughter April) sorted through a young mountain of photos, gathering up memories. My adopted daughter Candy punched up a list of songs as we shouted out Joyce's favorites.

I was reminded again and again how blessed I am.

Of how God came out of nowhere, in the most unlikely place, with the love of my life.

And how we proceeded to weather life's storms, thanks mostly to the love and perseverance of this wife, this mom.

I was the rock, oh yes. But she was the glue that held this rock in place.

Since Jesus found me, out flopping around in a self-created wilderness, I have tried to remember to thank Him every day for this best of wives, this Proverbs 31 woman.

How grievous it has been to see her suffer a seemingly endless round of affliction. How often have my prayers and the prayers of our Christian family gone up begging God for her healing.

And yesterday morning, He granted those prayers.

As usual, His providing was not the one we had in mind.

As always, it was the right one, the best one, the perfect one.

The LORD has given so much, and in so many ways.

And He has taken something I would have said I could not live without. But this is a temporary taking, you see. And, as always, what he gives in return for what we surrender to Him is so much more precious.

Blessed be the name of the LORD.

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. -Isaiah 55:12