I love to tell the story…memories of Dad

ImageToday is the 4th anniversary of my Dad passing from this life into the next. I never met anyone like Dad. He was wholly committed to Jesus and he told anyone he met about the Lord.

One of my favorite stories is when my parents and I were at a local mall and Mom and I went into a store leaving Dad outside. Suddenly, I looked out to see Dad chatting with an elderly gentlemen. I nudged my Mom and told her Dad was winning someone for Christ. When we were done shopping, I walked out to say hello to the sweet man and told him that my Dad was a committed Christian.

Surprisingly, the man told me that he was so impressed that Dad would just walk up to him and share the gospel. No one had ever done that to him.

What made it all the more impressive is that my Dad was unknowingly witnessing to the Senior Pastor of a large Baptist church.

Dad was “saving” a Baptist preacher. Dad wasn’t embarrassed because he was not ashamed to share the love of Christ with anyone he met. Dad told the Pastor he was glad to know he didn’t have to worry about him. It cracked me up.

I hope if someone ever shares Jesus with you that you will let them tell their story and witness to you. You may know more than they do and you may be a lifelong Christian but to the person with a true, deep and loving relationship with the Lord – their words mean something and they want to be sure you are saved.

Dad brought more people to Christ than anyone I know. I’m so very proud of him. I miss him greatly.

In loving memory: S.A. Parvin –  1919 – 2010

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory, I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

In my Easter bonnet…

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I attended an estate sale today was surprised to hear one lady walking around asking “Did someone die”, Oh, how sad!” – she couldn’t seem to get past the fact that yes, someone passed away and their belongings were now for sale.

I see things differently. I looked around at the sweet lady’s hats, gloves and costume jewelry. She had a lot of jewelry…but I thought to myself that this lady must have lived large and enjoyed her time on this earth. I also saw that she was a church member who left a well-read Bible. All in all, you can tell a lot about a person by their “things” and she must have liked going to church looking her best.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with owning pretty things and enjoying life. I also don’t find it sad that she couldn’t take all her “things” with her into the next life. I think she knew that this world is only temporary but while she was here – she was going to wear a hat and dress up for the Lord.

I didn’t find the estate sale sad. In fact, I bought one of her hats. I’ll be wearing it to church on Easter Sunday and I’ll think of the precious soul who wore it before me. I’m sure she would be pleased.

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down — when we die and leave these bodies — we will have a home in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands.  We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long for the day when we will put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 2 Corinthians 5:1-2

Homecoming

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Lily Lee Plumblee – 3 year old granddaughter’s artistic rendering of Heaven

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. John 14:2

I remember a time when I couldn’t wait to leave home. I was young, naïve and ready to be free from what I thought were the restraints placed upon me by my parents. I was pretty much an idiot.

I also remember what happened when I left. Scared, alone and with no safety net at college, I made a lot of mistakes. I picked poorly and it cost me dearly. I listened to the wrong people and make bad choices. I remember eventually returning home into the arms of my loving parents. Mom made a welcome home dinner and it smelled like heaven. It was a great homecoming.

So it goes with God. There have been times when I rebelled against God and made bad choices. Those bad choices led to more bad choices and a lot of heartache. We all know the feeling.

Fortunately, my parents raised me to love the Lord with all my heart. They raised me that redemption is possible from earthly parents and from our heavenly Father. They raised me to know that no one is beyond the loving arms of God.

Our church always had a Sunday service each year as a homecoming. So many old friends would return from all over the country and spend a day together and celebrate a loving community of faith and a Savior that welcomes us home.

I love the whole idea of homecoming. Homecoming is defined as “the act of arriving at a certain place, a coming to or returning home”. My parents have now celebrated the ultimate homecoming. Someday, Lord willing, we will all do the same. What a day of rejoicing that will be.

I’ve got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we’ll never grow old
And someday yonder, we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold

Baptist Hymnal 536

 

Everything is New Again!

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I enjoy Christmas cards and still send them out each year. I no longer write long family epistles of our adventures and mishaps but I do try to personalize them so that the receiver knows I put some thought and prayer behind each card.

Christmas cards are a loving tradition that reminds those we love of the birth of Jesus Christ. Somehow sending an e-card or Facebook post just doesn’t seem personal enough for me and I would miss the connection that can only come from a beautiful card featuring the nativity scene, sheep (of course), THE star, or wise men. I like to see what a friend has selected and it makes me wonder what they were thinking or what drew them to that specific card. I often keep cards that I find particularly lovely.

This year I kept just one. It’s an odd choice but I keep it in my Bible and look at it almost daily. All it says is “And just like that, Everything is New Again” – no pictures, no Christmas theme even. I just liked the thought behind the message.

Christmas is easy to celebrate because the birth of a baby is a joyous event and especially the birth of Jesus Christ. The season of Lent leading to Good Friday is a little harder to walk through as a Christian because to do so we have to remember a difficult time of pain and suffering. Who wants to celebrate that? Who wants to see Jesus crucified? It’s painful to even think about this tragic just prophesized turn of events.

As I grow older I learn that the Easter season is truly a beautiful time of worship for Christians. We go through the hard memories to cross over to the good ones. We have a chance to reflect, remember and celebrate. We celebrate a life well lived, a Savior who loves us so much that he would die on a cross for us and the final resurrection on Easter Sunday. Now that is something we should be writing about. That is something for which we should send out glorious cards of celebration and hope. That is a time when Everything is New Again!

This is the day!

As Christians we are often told that every day is a great day and everything that happens has a purpose. After all, this is the day that the Lord has made…let us rejoice.

Honestly, some days are great and some days are not so great. Some days we have to work at happiness and other days the laughter flows like water. And that’s OK.

Anyone who expects life to be perfect will be sorely disappointed. But for believers, we know that disappointments come and go as we move forward in faith. Quite often, it is during the difficult moments that we find a deeper relationship with God. Enjoy the highs and work through the lows. It is just what we do. We believe this.

Someone once told me that Christians don’t have bad days. They have bad moments. A person of faith knows that something better is coming and we just walk through the valley and fear no evil. Life is good but God is better.

 “Not all of our days could be extraordinary.  But our lives still could be.”   ―  Erin Mckittrick

 

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Today I had the pleasure of enjoying lunch with an elderly woman’s group in Orlando, FL. These ladies have been together for a very long time and know everyone’s history, wants, needs and desires. I doubt any of them was under 80 and they were living it up large. They were surprised to see me there since I am a bit out of their demographics, but, they were kind and cordial and excited to see a new face. I was welcomed.

I observed how carefully they cared for one another, helped each other when needed, let the weak go first in line and shared their aches and pains. This is a group that has loved on each other a long time and it shows.

As I sat there, I realized that groups like this are dwindling in today’s world. Specifically, no one looked at their cell phone or sent a tweet the entire two hours. They just ate together and enjoyed the company and camaraderie of friends. Laughter echoed off the halls of the building. Such joy.

I hope when I am older and grayer that I will have the great good fortune to have friends such as these. I hope my peeps will still enjoy a meal, a laugh and a song. I want to grow up to be just like these ladies.

For me, this kind of fellowship is the real “church” which is borne out of love and a positive co-dependence. The lunch was inspiring and uplifting. Their love for life and for each other was evident. A fellowship of saints. 

I Am Jesus Little Lamb

I'm New!

I am Jesus’ little lamb,
Ever glad at heart I am;
For my Shepherd gently guides me,
Knows my need, and well provides me,
Loves me every day the same,
Even calls me by my name.

When my daughter JJ was in Kindergarten, her class performed this song at an Easter concert. It wasn’t just because she was my youngest daughter but the words of the song and the earnest way she was singing made me cry.

There are certain moments in life that just stick in your memory forever. We like to call them “Kodak” moments. It was not really a special day or a momentous occasion but there was something about that day that made me stop all thought and just reflect on how precious life is and I knew I would remember it forever. My little girl reminded me of a time of innocence, love and faith. It was heavenly.

Anyone who knows me or reads this blog can tell that I like sheep. We say each Sunday “Oh Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us”. Like my sweet daughter, I say it in earnest because each week I need mercy. Each week I need forgiveness and each week I crave a reminder that God loves us more than we can imagine.

Ever glad at heart I am…

Spring Training

Every year fans of baseball know that with the coming of Spring begins spring training for star athletes. Most baseball players know how to play the game, they know how to throw, bat, hit, run and all aspects of playing the game. But still, they are required to show up for spring training and begin anew the habits and practices that will make them successful in their sport.

We as Christians also have spring training. It’s called Lent. For 40 days we have a time in which we can show up and begin anew the habits and practices that bring us closer to our God. It is a time to remember our history, to prepare for the Christian World Series (a/k/a resurrection) and to fall in love with our faith and our Lord all over again. We need this training.

Forty days has many significant meanings in the Bible. It is a number seen throughout and used many times. For me…forty days isn’t long enough to thank Jesus for the gift of grace. But I’m going to try.

Batter up…

Matthew 4:1-11 (KJV)

Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil. And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungred. And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread. But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple, And saith unto him, If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone. Jesus said unto him, It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God. Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me. Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him.

Spring Forward

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There is something about Spring. To be honest, it is not my favorite time of the year. That belongs to Fall when the air is crisp and the leaves are a wondrous  kaleidoscope of color. But spring also has it’s own shock and awe moments.

The bulbs planted so many years ago in our garden open once again to herald the arrival of the season. The leaves bud green and the birds start new families. So much of life is renewed. Many things that are old become new again and there aren’t many times in life when we can say that.

Tomorrow we spring forward by winding our clocks ahead to extend our sunlight and lengthen our days. I hope you will also spring forward with God and restore your spirit this season of Lent as our hearts are renewed and as we work through the days leading up to the celebration of our Lord’s resurrection. To spring forward in Christ is to spring forward in grace and to lengthen your days forever. That’s a wonderful thing.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: Ecclesiastes 3:1

My father’s hands

Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46

Hands are such a personal thing. Hands reach out to hold the ones we love, to hold the ones we are losing and to serve those who needs us. Hands are a touch, a blessing, a remarkable way of physically showing we care…we are secure.

I remember sitting in church with my father and holding his hand. My Dad had large hands and they were tanned and strong. Even as a small child, I knew his hands were special because they belonged to my Dad. They belonged to me. I felt safe and protected and loved.

It was my Dad’s hands that picked me up when I fell, his hands that taught me to swim, his hands that walked me down the aisle on my wedding day and held my babies. I remember every inch of his hands and I remember the joy they brought to me.

When my Dad was dying, I held his hand. I don’t think he knew I was there but it didn’t matter. The touch of a loved one transcends so many things – even the power of death. I held his hand and kissed it after he passed. It was a personal goodbye and seemed so perfect as I turned my Dad over to a Father who waited for him. I am certain the first thing my Dad touched was the loving hands of his savior and that comforts me.

To imagine nail scarred hands reaching out for my Dad is beyond my wildest dreams and yet I am certain it was so. What a day of rejoicing that must have been.