Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sorrow for Sparrows

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God.
Luke 12:6

The newly melted snow uncovered a dead bird in our backyard yesterday--the boys' first face-to-face encounter with the sadness of death. Quietly they crouched and observed the stillness of our little feathered friend.  I found the moment appropriate to mention Jesus' teaching that not even a sparrow falls to ground without our Heavenly Father knowing about it; that God knows all about even the little sparrows and determines when their time is to "go". Their little minds worked to process why and how this one died but were mostly just sad for the little birdie.

Full of faith, Lion concluded, "We can pray for it and bring it inside and care for it to bring it back to life..." Not wanting to crush his sweet heart I gently explained that in this world, when a creature dies, it's body stays dead, but that's why we love Jesus because He made a way for life after death.  Lion began to weep and expressed, "I'm just so sad about death." I picked him up and told him that it was okay to be sad, that I was too.  Bear's sad eyes looked up from his observation of the bird and humbly asked, "will you pray?" So together we prayed a little eulogy for the bird and I thanked God for loving us even more than the sparrows, for the bird's song, and for Jesus who came to make an end to forever death.

Quietly we sat, holding each other while the boys observed and again Lion heavily wept about the sadness of death. I empathized with him while speaking relevant words of scripture, like how all creation has been made subject to death because of sin, that creation groans as we wait for Jesus to come make all things new. As Lion processed, he lamented that "death is just everywhere, it's so sad."

As Bear remained in quiet observation, Lion got up and walked across the yard to the gazebo for some time to himself.  He wandered around in the mud of our winter-killed garden; vines bare, plants brown and crushed by the months of snow...and then excitedly came running back.

"Mom! I have the BEST news after this bad death news: I found signs of LIFE! Come see!" We
 hurried across to the corner of the yard to find the very first sprouts of green emerging from the mud. Lion was inspired, "we will call this the 'Garden of Salvation' where we can come when we're sad about death and see life to wipe our tears away..."

Lion's heart was lifted and mine was filled. We walked around the yard, talked about telling daddy when he got home, and made arrangements for birdie's burial.  Lion ran inside to get a little box and he and Bear filled it with leaves "to make it comfy". Shortly afterward, Todd came home and the boys spoke a mile a minute to explain what they discovered.  Todd prepared for "a proper burial" and Lion objected: "you can't put him in our Garden of Salvation because it's only a place for life; no death can come there." So Todd dug a place under an evergreen tree opposite the garden and placed a rock there for us to remember our birdie teacher.

Lion was excited to show Todd the green sprigs in the garden, and there he said, "whenever we see green, whoever is sad can pray.  If you don't come to the garden to pray when you're sad, your heart will be like a stone.  Daddy, are you sad about the bird? Then you can pray." Lion knelt and Bear stood by the sprigs while Todd prayed a beautiful prayer of thanks for our hope in Jesus, and for His death and resurrection that brought us life. 

After dinner, we went out in the spring rain to find raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry bushes to plant in our garden.

Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.  For all creation is waiting eagerly for that future day when God will reveal who his children really are.  Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  For we know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering. We, too, wait with eager hope for the day when God will give us our full rights as his adopted children, including the new bodies he has promised us.  We were given this hope when we were saved. 
Romans 8:18-24

I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them.  He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.”

And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life.  All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.
Revelation 21:3-7

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Praises for Seven

Seven years ago, dressed in pearly white, I walked with my dad down a brick path through a rose garden to the guitar-strumming tune of Come Thou Fount.  There at a fountain I met my man, in his Navy dress whites, where we vowed our love in the communion of Christ's love.  

Since then I'd like to portray that it's been all roses, but better yet it's been beautiful blooms surrounded by the prick of thorns.  We've been painfully cut back sometimes to bloom more bountifully, watered some by dew, other times by heavy downpour, all still a consistent nurturing of God's faithful love and care.  But regardless of how well Todd and I, and now our three-almost-four children have grown, I always come back to the same tune of praise to Jesus, our never-failing Fountain of Grace:

Come Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
Mount of God's unchanging love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Hither by Thy help I'm come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be!
Let that grace now like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here's my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.
--Robert Robinson, 1757

After praise to God for our marriage, my heart wants also to praise my Todd.  Being the humble man that he is, Toddy doesn't receive words of praise very well.  It's almost like he doesn't trust them, or worse, receive them.  So today as we celebrate seven years of marriage, I thought it was appropriate to explain why I must praise him so :)

For Toddy With Love

“We delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is the appointed consummation.  It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed.”  -C.S. Lewis

When I tell you, ‘I love you,’ ‘You’re handsome,’ ‘You’re good,’
I believe that you have me quite misunderstood.
I don’t tell you I love you to boost your esteem,
and when praising your character it may seem
that to receive my praise is to deny humility,
or worser yet to promote idolatry.
But what you have missed is that I must praise what I enjoy;
to deny praise is my joy to destroy.

For Jesus said, “what’s in the heart the mouth speaks,”
and to share from my heart is when my joy peaks.
So when you hear that I admire your frame,
your thoughts, your love, and the sound of your name,
please hear that your quality is reflection of your Maker,
and believe when I praise you that I am no faker.
That enjoyment of you is enjoyment of Jesus,
Who gives us sweet gifts with intentions to please us.
That the pleasure of others is to make more than a nod
to the ultimate joy who is our great God.

So my Toddy, I love you and the man that you are.
If I were looking for greatness I wouldn’t have to look far.
for beside me is a husband, a father, a friend,
who makes my heart swell and my knees to bend,
in praise of my Redeemer who loves me so,
Who has blessed me with you that His Christ-love I’ll know.

Happy Anniversary, seven years have now passed,
in a marriage that is more than I could have asked.
To the enjoyment and praise of the One who gives life,
and has given me the pleasure of being your wife.

From my heart,

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Happy Groundhog Day 2013!

These little groundhogs came out to say that winter isn't going anywhere soon around these parts!  Praising God for another year of His faithfulness :)