Thursday, January 27, 2011

Sharing Birthdays

We shared a special day.

I was born fifteen minutes before midnight. My mother had been in labor for many, many hours (she reminds me) and finally I emerged from birth waters into the arms of the doctor just a few short minutes before the turn of the day. Therefore, I was brought into the world on my grandmother's 42nd birthday, her first grandchild of seven. Whew! I barely made it!

Being born on her birthday was one of the greatest gifts that the Lord ever bestowed on both of us.

January was always a lean month, especially when I was a child. Christmas gift giving and extra food for holiday celebrations had usually squeezed all of the extra out of spending and most of my birthday gifts were insignificant. In fact, I don't remember any of the gifts that I received on my birthday. Well, I do remember a beautiful winter coat that I received the year I was in middle school. I had drooled over the picture of it in the Sears catalogue for hours and hours. I couldn't believe it when I found it hanging in my bedroom. That beautiful warm coat was an exception. My mother was very conscious of our lack and always fretted about my gifts being small, but I never thought of it that way. Grandma, one of my favorite people in the whole world, shared my birthday and that was a wonderful gift to me.

She died when I was 42 years old on a very hot summer day. Days before her death, she had a vision that she was dancing with Jesus. "Right there," she pointed her long finger to a spot on the floor at the end of her hospital bed, "we were right there dancing, He and I. Surely someone saw us." My grandma was not demented in her final days. I always believed her story and I treasure the memory of her tale.

I turned fifty last week, this is my year of Jubilee. It has been eight years since Grandma left with her dancing shoes on.  Every year I feel the ache of her absence as my  life goes on and I keep having birthdays without her.

January 20th is a day that is usually extremely cold, someone is usually sick, and everyone's pockets are nearly empty, but I wouldn't want any other day to be my birthday. One of these days, when I stop celebrating my birthdays here, I will witness with my own eyes, Grandma dancing with Jesus. Reunited, we will celebrate our born again birthday together with all the hosts of heaven because that is the birthday that really matters.

"Your days for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." Psalm 139:16

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


I folded the hem on the scrap of cloth just so. I folded it at least ten times before she was satisfied.

"Now make tiny stitches, like so, in and out, in and out. Here, you try."

Grandma was teaching me to sew on a 9x9 scrap of cloth that would be nothing. It wasn't even a pretty piece of cloth. What a waste, I thought.

I wanted to sew like her. I wanted to be able to look at a picture of a really cute dress, make a pattern out of paper, pin it to a favorite fabric, cut it out and sew one for myself. She thought it a great idea to teach me.

She wouldn't let me begin my sewing hobby by making a dress. I was impatient with her method of small beginnings.

My ten year old mind did not enjoy the mundane and I totally lacked the vision for where this rediculous
task might take me. As a result, I am not the gifted seamstress my grandmother was.

I would get to the end of the "hem" I was sewing on my little square of cloth then present it to the judge, the gifted one, grandma. She would examine it, much like a jeweler inspects a precious stone. The verdict was the same every time, for ten times or more.

"Okay, honey, rip it out now and do it again. Your stitches need to  . . ."

It took a lot of patience to learn from her. She was excellent at everything! Originally, I thought she was born that way, but looking back on her method of teaching, I think she taught like she had learned, practice, practice, practice.

Until this moment, I never really considered the patience that it took for her to work with me. Selah moment.

Practice takes patience. Practicing the mundane can lead you to some great places! I wish now that I had stuck with it and let her teach me, but I gave up too soon, and now I live with the result of my impatience.

I would never choose to write on patience, but it seems to be the word that the Lord has stuck in my heart right now.

Love is patient.

Yesterday, someone said to me, "You should never pray for patience!"

They had no idea what has been stewing in my heart.

"Well, I won't! Thank you for reminding me!" I thought.

But the truth is, patience can get you places that impatience cannot. And I want to go to some places; with people, with accomplishments, with God that will take a lot of patience. I desperately need it.

I may not ask God for patience, but I am praying. I am asking Him to fill me with His Spirit. And His Spirit is patient and if He is in me, I will have it when I need it. Thank you, God.

"But let patience have its perfect work; that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing." James 1:4 NKJV

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Love Is

1Corinthians 13

Love IS . . .

The verses aren't about rules or reasons.

They are descriptions 

Love Is  . . .

meeting us at the threshold is 

patience . . . 

preceding all others, the genesis of qualities, the captain that 

the others follow . . .

patience, the arbor that kindness, humility, and forgiveness  must pass through . . .

"the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect, complete, lacking nothing." James 1:3-4

When patience has its perfect work ... kindness, humility, and forgiveness are released from a well of living water within . . . an uncapped well that becomes a fountain and all who drink from it are refreshed. 

Patience . . . the benevolence of God. 

God is LOVE and LOVE is PATIENT and He is faithful to give us the fruit of Spirit . . . patience.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Under Construction

"End of Construction ... thank you for your patience." (as written on Ruth Bell Graham's tombstone you can see below)

She is gone but she has left a message, an unconventional sermon, which was so Ruth! 

I stood over her tombstone pondering her gratitude, her wit, her grace. 

Ruth Bell Graham, the wife of world renown evangelist, Billy Graham, ministered to me that day. That was four years ago and her words still speak to my soul.

I love new beginnings. I love that January causes so many to reflect on the past, and look on the present as opportunity to redirect and pursue new goals. I have been in that rank for many years.

This year is different for me. I feel like I am under construction.

"Aren't we always?"  you might ask.

Yes, we are, and Ruth would agree. But this year is different. The work I need is major!

I feel like an old, broken down homestead that is in much need of repair. Windows are broken, floors are sagging, doors lean against walls or cover holes in floors instead of hanging securely in place, plumbing and electricity need repair or replaced and ... the list is endless.

However, I have really good news. The Lord is not going to tear down the house. He is in the process of reconstructing as I write.

I am doing some things to help Him with the process, but I must tell you, that, mostly, I am letting Him do the  work.

Some of the construction is moving right along. He has helped me to get some garbage out. There is some woodwork that has been restored. The stripping came first, then the stain. Some of it is tedious requiring patience for both of us.

There was a heaping pile of pride, so, so large,  He has removed dump truckloads at a time. Just when I think He has gotten it all, the truck comes around the corner for another load! 

How I despise the smelly stuff!!!

 So, I am committed to taking one day at a time. I am listening. Following the lead of the Master Craftsman.

I join my grateful heart with Ruth's in saying, "thank you for your patience."