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OUR HUMBLE HOME

This has been a week of little unexpected blessings for me. I haven’t done anything special, or gone anywhere, but it makes me happy and grateful when the Lord just drops little joy-fillers into our lives to uplift and bless us.

The series of messages I told you about a few weeks ago by Dr. David Jeremiah on the book of Revelations continues to encourage and exhort as I’ve delved into the study each day. You wouldn’t think that a book on prophecy would have so much practical and personal application for our lives here and now, but I have gleaned so much already that has drawn me closer to the Lord and made me love and praise Him all the more, and made me want to serve Him better.

I have been excited, too, as Bob put in some new flowers and plants in front of our house, and have enjoyed the color and variety as they began to flourish – a sure sign that despite the chilly weather we’ve been experiencing, spring is here! We put out a new American flag (we usually swap out the old one every year or two when they start to look a little grubby) and it was then that I noticed the colors of our new flowers were the red, white and blue of the flag. The colors really popped against one another! Just looking at them gives me a happy heart!

Then there are the DVDs I borrowed from my mother last week. The sound of old-time Southern Gospel music has filled our home this week as Robbie and I, and Bob when he is around, have listened over and over to five or six Gaither Homecoming DVDs. The music is sometimes energetic and catchy, sometimes quiet and peaceful, but always uplifting and glorifying to the Lord and a blessing to me.

The true highlight of our week turned out to be something very different, however. We don’t have company very often, and when we do, it is usually family or people who know us, and the way we live, very well. Where for many years our home was a busy hub of activity and we had large groups of people in weekly, since Robbie’s illness we have grown accustomed to living quietly and to ourselves. This week, though, Bob’s boss and his wife were coming to visit – and I have to admit, the thought made me a little nervous.

I had met Ray and April briefly several years ago in Canada, but to tell the truth, I was rather nervous then, too – probably more because I was out of my element then. I knew they were very nice people and had done a great deal already for Bob as he has worked for them, but as I prepared for their visit I kept wondering what they would think of our home and Robbie – and me. Bob told me several times, “Cindy, quit worrying about it! Ray and April are very kind, down-to-earth people. It will be fine!”

I hoped most of all they would like and appreciate Robbie, looking beyond the disabilities and drool and seeing him for the very special, sweet person he is. We see him through eyes of love and know all the funny, loving, gentle qualities of his personality, but others just meeting him might not recognize the special gift that Robbie is. Anyone who knows us knows how much we cherish that boy, and they had certainly heard enough about Robbie from Bob. Now I hoped as they met him in person for the first time, they would understand why we love him so much and why we thank God for blessing our lives with him.

I worried most of all, though, about what they would think of our house and the way we live. I knew they have a summer home in Canada and a winter home in Florida, and a motor home, as well. Our house is old and in a transitioning neighborhood. It is clean and neat, but there’s nothing fancy or updated about it. Our list of to-do’s (paint the living and dining rooms and hall, put in new flooring and cabinets in the kitchen, refinish some of the interior doors, redo the bathroom downstairs, etc) is long, but somehow we never seem to have the time or money at the same time to get these jobs done. Robbie’s bed is in the middle of our living room. Despite all the HGTV I watch, our favorite décor is comfort over fashion, and family photos over current trends.

Bob was absolutely right! I wasted a lot of worry over what Ray and April would think. They were lovely, kind people and I enjoyed having them here immensely. “Down-to-earth” was the right term to describe them. They seemed to really like Robbie, and of course, he was smitten with them! They actually seemed to love our house, and even our neighborhood, as well! It turns out, they are renovating an old farmhouse in Canada that was built in the 1800’s, and then added to in 1932. (Our house was built in 1928.) They could appreciate the age and character of our house, and the fact that it wasn’t updated.

The thing I had worried about all week turned out to be a wonderful blessing. I think we all enjoyed a good time of fellowship, and a strengthening of our relationship and friendship. What’s more, the Lord used these two sweet people to remind me once again of lessons I thought I had learned long ago:

When will I ever learn to focus on the more important, spiritual things, rather than on the earthly, temporal concerns of this life? Rather than worrying about how people might judge our house, I ought to be more concerned with how they see our home. I get caught up with cleaning, rearranging, putting out the best dishes and candles on the table, serving a delicious meal – all to make a good impression. It is nice when guests appreciate our house and the meal, but am I as concerned that their spirits are nurtured and fed, as well, when they enter our home? The focus ought not to be on the impression I make of myself or my home, but on them and how we can minister to them.

Does love live here? When people enter our home will they feel the love of Christ and the love we have for one another? Will they know that we love them, too? There is no fireplace in this house, but will they feel the warmth of our love? I Corinthians 13 tells us that love is self-sacrificing, patient, kind, truthful, pure, unfailing…”Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth:…And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-8, 13) The Bible also says, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.” (I John 4:7, 8) Our love is a testimony to others that He lives within us.
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Can they feel the joy of the Lord? The walls may be drab and need a coat or two of paint, but may the joy of the Lord color our home! Do others see joy in our faces and hear rejoicing in our words when they come into our home? Do they receive a warm welcome and feel that we are truly glad to have them here? The Bible tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10), our light (Psalm 89:15), our prosperity (Psalm 35:27) and a crown (I Thessalonians 2:19.) “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” (Psalm 32:11) What a testimony when we can rejoice in adversity; when we can glorify God for victories and praise Him in all things!

Can they feel the peace of God? Is our home tension-filled – a place of strife and anger, or do others feel comfort and peace when they enter? When we live at peace with one another, when we are patient, when we live harmoniously and in unity, it shows. The décor of my house may not always be harmonious (Bob’s mounted trophy deer hangs just above my palm trees and sea shells) but I hope our lives are, and that they are a testimony to the peace that passes all understanding when others come into our home. Ephesians 4:2-3, 31-32 says, “With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”

Do they sense that Christ is the center of our home? Do they feel His presence here? Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) If our home is filled with His love, joy, and peace they will know that He is present in our home. There is a plaque by our front door that reads, “…Choose you this day whom ye will serve… but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15) We have chosen to follow the Lord and make Him the head of our home. There is an old saying that goes, “Christ is the head of this house, the unseen guest at every meal, the silent listener to every conversation.” I pray that our conduct and our conversation, our lifestyle and our lives will be a steadfast testimony always that Christ dwells here in our hearts and in our home.

I’ve been praising God for the little unexpected blessings He’s sent me this week, including the blessing of having guests here this week. I hope their visit here was a blessing to them, too!

CHERISH THE TREASURE

We celebrated Bob’s birthday this week. He turned fifty-eight. It’s hard to believe that he is only two years away from sixty, and that we have been together for almost forty years! Where have the years gone? It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were young-marrieds with three little ones in tow, and now here we are, the grandparents of eight!

I miss our girls and their families all the time, but it is even more difficult when it comes to celebrating birthdays and holidays without them here. Bob probably didn’t notice it as much as I did because he did get to celebrate his birthday a few days earlier with Julie’s family down in Alabama. On his actual day, though, it was just Robbie and me. I fixed a fancy dinner, complete with the special dishes and silverware that I use for special occasions, but it was just a little lonely sitting there at the table where normally our large family would be gathered. I presented him with a big brownie sundae with a candle on top and sang a solo rendition of “Happy Birthday.” Robbie “helped” by pulling the tissue paper and present out of Daddy’s gift bag for him. I tried to make it nice for Bob, and I know he appreciated and enjoyed it, even if we were all by ourselves.

The birthday present in that bag was a CD by Steve Green, a Christian artist we have enjoyed since back in the 70’s and 80’s. Several of the songs on that CD were ones we used to sing, back in the days when we still sang special numbers in church. Among them was one that Bob and I sang as a duet, Cherish the Treasure. The words (written by Jon Mohr) say in part:

I cherish the treasure,

The treasure of you.
Lifelong companion,
I give myself to you.
God has enabled me
To walk with you faithfully,
And cherish the treasure,
The treasure of you.

After forty years together it would be easy to take one another for granted. Sometimes we even focus on the little things that drive us crazy. When I started thinking about the good things about my husband this week, though, I came up with The Top Ten Things I Love About Bob list in about thirty seconds flat. In no particular order, here they are:

1. He makes me laugh – What a goof! Whether it’s slapstick, “punny,” or stand-up comedy, those wheels are always turning in his head to somehow make me laugh!

2. He protects me – Oh, there are times I feel over-protected, but I always know he is looking out for my best and simply wants to be sure I am safe and well.

3. He’s my problem solver – All I have to do is open my mouth with the slightest hint of a question or problem and he jumps right in, trying to take care of it for me. Sometimes all I’m really looking for is a little sympathy, but he’ll find a solution, nevertheless, if he can!

4. He’s a faithful husband – Bob is 100% a family man. When he took those wedding vows, he meant them for life. I know without a doubt he would never do anything to jeopardize our family or marriage. As the song says, he is my lifelong companion who walks with me faithfully.

5. He’s an awesome dad – I know there has never been a better dad to his children! He’s always done his best and been there for the girls to help them in any way he could; and as a daddy to Robbie—well, let’s just say thirty-three years of willingly changing diapers, cheerfully bathing, dressing, feeding and caring for Robbie, and lovingly standing beside him through all the testings and trials, and being his best pal says it all.

6. He’s a man of faith – From the moment of his salvation forty years ago. Bob has loved and served the Lord with his whole heart. His faith in God is unshakeable and he does not waver or worry because he trusts in Him. He’s a godly leader in our family and a faithful witness for the Lord at every opportunity.

7. He’s does the “little things” – Making my coffee in the morning, bringing me flowers or chocolates for no reason, getting the car washed for me when I’m going out, making sure I get those nights out from time to time…

8. He is like a rock – He stands up for his convictions whether they be spiritual, political or philosophical. He is dependable, responsible and steady. I know he will always be there, doing his best.

9. He is generous and caring to others, loyal and gives his all – I have literally seen him give the coat off his back and boots off his feet to a homeless man. He’ll drop everything if a neighbor needs help. He is loyal to his employers and gives everything he’s got on the job.

10. He loves me – He accepts me the way I am, despite my shortcomings. He supports and encourages me in all my endeavors and many times put me first before his own desires. I couldn’t ask for a better husband and am thankful to God for giving him to me.

Having said all this, I’ll admit Bob is not perfect! Shock! He’s a typical male is some areas (you women will understand this) and there are things about him that drive me crazy, often on a daily basis! I know he could say the same about me. When I focus on the good things about him, though, it helps me to look past the shortcomings and faults and helps me to forgive and live in harmony with him. I don’t want to take my husband for granted, but to cherish him and our life together.

That is what I want to address today—focusing on the good in others and cherishing our close bonds with them. So far, I’ve related this to marriage and my spouse, but we need to be careful to truly treasure the relationships we have with others in our lives, as well—our children and other family members, and even our friends. It takes dedicated resolution to break the habit of fault-finding and focus on the good, instead. It takes thought and effort to truly cherish that sometimes unlovable person. It takes selfless love to treasure the other above ourselves. Here are some things we can do to cherish the ‘Treasures” in our lives:

First of all, write you own “Top Ten Things I Love About _____________” list. It might come easily, or you might have to think long and hard, but I’ll bet there are at least ten things you can come up with for just about anyone in your life—even if it’s only “He doesn’t stink!”

Second, take a look at what the Bible has to say about relationships with others in our lives. Romans 12, Ephesians 4, 5, 6 and Colossians 3 are just a few of the passages that speak to marriage, parent-child relationships, how to relate to employers and employees and how to get along within the church. The book of Proverbs speaks often of friendship. When you are struggling with a relationship, do a study on what the Word of God has to say about it. His answers and help are there for us to draw upon!

Third, I’ve taken the letters of the word CHERISH and put together some other things we can do to show those we love just how much we treasure them in our lives:

Compliment – We are often quick to criticize. Let us rather find something good to say, and instead of tearing down, build the other up. Proverbs 16:24 tells us that Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

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Help – Putting feet to our words shows that we really care. We must be willing to put the other’s needs before our own and unselfishly give of our time and strength to be there for that one. Galatians 6:9, 10 says, And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
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Encourage – Sometimes all a person needs to be all that he can be, or to reach for his dreams, or to simply try his best is someone standing behind him giving him the support, counsel and faith in him that he might not have for himself. Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man’s friend by hearty counsel. (Proverbs 27:9)

Respond – Respond correctly and in love, not in anger. Respond patiently, humbly, cheerfully. Respond with kindness and forgiveness. A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger. (Proverbs 15:1) With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:2-3, 31-32)

Inspire – Be the kind of person you want the other to be. You cannot ask more of someone else than you are willing to be or do yourself. …be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. (I Timothy 4:12)

Submit – The Bible tells us that we are to submit to one another, each esteeming the other to be better than himself. This means putting aside pride, selfishness, competitiveness, envy, having to have the last word… Ephesians 5:21 says, Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. and Philippians 2:3 adds, Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.

Honor – God has given you a great gift in that spouse, child, parent, sibling or friend. He or she is not perfect, but when we honor that person we are recognizing and thanking God for that gift to us, and telling the other—and everyone around us—that we truly do cherish the precious treasure we have in that relationship. Romans 12:10 says, Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.


Take the time this week to cherish someone in your life! It will not only be a blessing to the other person, but you will find yourself tremendously blessed, as well!

LOVE YOU—CRISS-CROSS MY HEART!

Something very special happened to me this week. Something so special that it brought tears to my eyes and had me cheering and jumping for joy. Something truly special because I had waited thirty-three years for it.

Robbie said “Love you” to me for the first time in his life.
Oh sure, he’s made it abundantly clear all his life that he loves me and how much he loves me. Nobody loves like Robbie! Nobody hugs harder, squeezes your hand harder, or gives bigger, sloppier kisses than our precious boy. Nobody loves more unconditionally than Robbie—other than the Lord, of course. Nobody greets you with a bigger grin from ear to ear than Robbie or stares into your eyes with his heart in his own eyes, trying desperately to convey the message that he loves you. For someone who has never been able to speak, his message of love has come through loud and clear.
Before he became so very sick in 2001, Robbie did a little sign language. The area of his brain that controls speech was damaged, so over the years he learned about a dozen signs and could actually do about half of them. When he finally woke up after two long years of almost total silence and twenty hours of sleep a day, he had lost the ability to do even that. Gradually he regained two of those signs. “More music, please, Mommy” became simply “More, please” and more often than not, just “Please.” I have tried and tried to get him to sign “Mommy” and “Daddy” again, and although I can see he definitely recognizes those signs and could do them if he wanted to, he just laughs and grins and absolutely refuses to do them. He is pulling our chains—big time. ☺
Robbie had never signed “Love you,” though, even in his best years. The sign requires you to simply cross your hands over your heart, but maybe because it required using both hands at once instead of just one, he refused to even try. It never really bothered me, though for, as I said, there was never any doubt that he truly and whole-heartedly loved us.
When he suddenly signed it this week it came as a big shock. At first I couldn’t believe my eyes and thought surely it was just a fluke. He was looking at me with such expectancy in his eyes, though, and with such a big grin on his face that I asked incredulously, “Robbie, are you trying to tell me that you love me?” His face lit up and he got all excited. Mama had understood him! His first few attempts were a little crude—he couldn’t get his hands crossed quite right—but as the week went on they became clearer and he confidently and deliberately signed “Love you!” to me all week long.
Why would this be such a big deal if all along he’s shown me without a shadow of a doubt that he loves me? Don’t actions speak louder than words? After all, lots of people say those three little words, “I love you” and say them falsely. Words are easily said. Proving those words may not be so easy.
Well, first of all, those words did not come easily for Robbie. It took thirty-three years and a lot of hard effort on his part to “say” them. That makes them precious to me. Aside from that, however, is the fact that those words in particular are precious—to all of us—when they are said from a loving heart.
Actions do speak louder than words, but let’s not forget that the words are important, too. Just imagine if your husband brought home a paycheck, took out the garbage, mowed the lawn and even took you out for dinner now and then, but never, ever told you he loved you. Wouldn’t you feel a little hurt? Wouldn’t you feel that there was something missing?
God, our Heavenly Father, has shown us how much He loves us in many ways but the ultimate proof of His love is found in Romans 5:8, “But God demonstrated his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son…” and in John 15:13 we are told, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” His love does not stop with our salvation, though. Daily He blesses us “with lovingkindness and tender mercies.” (Psalm 103:4) We have the proof of His love in creation, and in His provision and protection, in healing and strength, in His grace and mercy. He makes us His children and loves us as a Father.
We see His love for us all around; we feel His love in our lives. How wonderful that He tells us of His love for us, too! In His love letter to us, the Word of God, He tells us, “Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3) In Romans 6:38, 39 we are told, “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” I’m so glad that we have that personal relationship with our Father in which He tells us of His love for us.
We need to tell Him, too, that we love Him. Our obedience to Him shows Him that we love Him. “He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me…” (John 14:21a) God loves for us to tell Him that we love Him, too. That’s why He created us. We love to hear our spouse or children tell us they love us. What if they said, “But I just told you last week that I loved you. If anything changes, I’ll let you know!” That wouldn’t make us feel very good. Of course we know they love us, but we still want to hear it! That’s how God feels. He knows what’s in our hearts, but He wants to hear it. We tell Him we love Him with our thanksgiving and praise, in song and especially in prayer. We tell him why we love Him—not only for what He does for us, but for Who He is.
Words count. That’s why I was so thrilled when Robbie finally told me, in his own unique way, that he loves me, even though I knew it all along. That is why, the older I get, the more I see the importance of telling my family and friends that I love them. I try never to say goodbye to one of my loved ones without saying, “Love you!” to them. I don’t want them to just assume that I love them—I want them to hear it from my own lips. And I don’t want a day to go by without telling the Lord I love Him.
Words count. Make it a point today to tell the Lord, and the special people in your life, “Love you—criss-cross my heart!”