“Because you are my helper,
I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings.”
-- Psalm 63:7 NLT
My maternal grandmother, Ada, loved to whistle hymns, as well as sing praises to God. She whistled and sang in the barn and nearly everywhere else during her growing-up years. Her mother warned her that a whistling woman was certainly not a righteous one--social mores then were very different from those in our do-as-you-please society.
I like to think of my grandmother and her songs. My own experience has shown me that a dismal day can be turned on its head with a cheerful song. I taught my three children that singing is good therapy for sadness, or when one is simply caught up in the stress of work or life in general. Singing refocuses our mind away from the self and onto God.
For many years I've sat at the piano in the midafternoon, taking a break from writing deadlines to give a "praise offering" to God through music. This daily act of worship rests my mind and heart and can even recharge my muse.
What about you? Have you turned to singing or playing an instrument to shoo away the cobwebs of your life? Have you discovered the joy of whistling as an act of worship while you garden, send out resumes, or prepare school lunches?
My prayer for you today is that God’s presence will open up to you...that you will know beyond any doubt that the Lord who loves you is not only your Helper, but your ever-present Light and Life.
Scripture of the Month (August)
“In my father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
-- John 14:2 NIV
My dear uncle Bob passed away recently, and I was asked to speak at his memorial service. Here is some of what I said last week to honor and celebrate the life of that godly, loving man.
Uncle Bob was not only my uncle; he was my confidant and spiritual advisor, and a very good friend. He taught me that it’s not as important to be busy doing things for God as it is to simply enjoy His presence. Imagine, if you will, sitting on a park bench with the Creator of the universe—would you really ask a hundred questions? Uncle Bob didn’t think so. He believed he would be wrapped up in total adoration; he’d just want to sit quietly and soak up God’s incredible love. In many ways, Uncle Bob did exactly that each day as he opened his Bible and read, memorizing and letting Scripture seep down into his heart.
“Heaven is our heart’s deepest longing,” Uncle Bob told me more than once. (Yes, he'd read Peter Kreeft's wonderful book Heaven, the Heart’s Deepest Longing.) Uncle Bob believed dying would be as effortless as going from one room to another—from this life to the glorious next. Like stepping onto a new shore and discovering it’s heaven, like touching a hand and finding it’s God’s. Home at last!
My wish for you this month is that you will bask in the presence of our great God. And if you do not know the Lord Jesus, that you will open your heart to receive the One who gave His life for you, and for each of us...that we might live beyond the grave. Blessings, dear friends!
Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.”
-- Psalm 16:1-2 NIV
Have you ever stopped to think what are your most cherished possessions? If you had to evacuate your home, what would you take with you?
A few days ago, Dave and I found ourselves considering those very questions as mountain wildfires raged just a few miles from our home—the now epic Waldo Canyon Fire so many are still bravely fighting.
Attempting to remain clearheaded and calm, I went through each room in our house, beginning with my office. I saw the awards for my novels, and the irreplaceable research books, some very old and passed along by my mother’s Plain relatives. And I noted the numerous editions of each of my own books—the many dust-jacketed hard covers, as well as foreign, large print, and book club editions.
Ten years ago when we evacuated, due to the Hayman Fire, I packed about thirty boxes of things I thought I would miss! This time, far less. The kids’ framed art, family albums, important papers, two special bracelets from Dave, an heirloom quilt, my leather Bible, and a letter my mother wrote to me, to be read upon her death. The latter is timely, especially because today, June 28, would have been her ninetieth birthday. I love you, my darling Beverly. I believe in you, because you gave your heart to Jesus when you were just a little girl of six, and you yearn to follow His ways. Cling to His loving hand, always…and trust wholly in Him. Reading those words again reminded me of all I really need: the Lord Jesus.
The Lord is our only true refuge. He is our “good thing”—the greatest treasure in my life, and in yours. I knew that. But I realized it afresh as I read the words written by a sweet mother who always encouraged me to follow God and His call upon my heart. To this day, she is the reason I write my inspirational stories.
Yes, it took a very short time to pack my most important things this past week. Tangible memories, impossible to replace. They are now contained in three boxes, waiting in case we have to evacuate. But the best treasures aren’t physical, are they? We remember the precious smiles on the faces of our children and grandchildren, the heartfelt “I love yous” said by our spouses—nothing can take those things away. Best of all, as it says in Romans 8:35, nothing can separate us from the love of God. We carry His love in our hearts each day, no matter how calamitous the circumstances around us.
I wish that kind of love for you and your family. May you, too, find that God is your “good thing” in every circumstance.
My son, listen to your father’s discipline, and do not neglect your mother’s teachings, because discipline and teachings are a graceful garland on your head and a golden chain around your neck.
— Proverbs 1: 8,9 GOD'S WORD Translation
Father’s Day champions faithful and caring dads. Yet what’s a joyful day for many can be difficult for those whose fathers have abandoned them.
I personally am grateful for a father who entrusted his life and his family to God. Called to ministry in a Kansas cornfield at the age of sixteen, Dad has followed the Lord in every respect, as a pastor of several church plants, in missions around the world, and in encouraging other ministers. He is a godly example to many who’ve followed his life’s work and ministry. Following Dad’s retirement from pastoring, he and my mother made more than twenty trips into mainland China. Oh, the stories of redemption that come from their life of ministering together! (Mother went to be with the Lord six years ago next month.)
My dad’s first “brush with temptation” came at the age of fourteen, when he and his fifteen-year-old uncle decided they were tired of their little town and made plans to run away from home. They jumped into an empty boxcar on the Union Pacific train tracks in Lawrence, Kansas and waited for the engine to hook up. While waiting, Dad began to ponder the fact his father was on the road, hauling cattle...which meant my dad’s chores of milking the cow and feeding the chickens—and all the other outside chores—would fall to his already very busy mother, who at the time had five children.
Without saying a word to his rambunctious uncle, Dad changed his mind, jumped off the boxcar, and headed down the hill toward home. It wasn’t long before he heard the tramp of footsteps and turned to see his uncle Henry coming up behind him. Both boys returned home that afternoon to their families. Responsibility and good training had won out!
Even though I heard this story many times growing up, my dad, who will celebrate his eighty-seventh birthday this fall, recently shared this account with me again. It struck me that my dad valued responsibility, love of family, and hard work from even early on. I owe so very much to my godly father, who instilled the same traits in me and my younger sister.
Happy Father’s Day to my dear daddy! And blessings to all the fathers represented here.