Tag Archive | God’s love

A Little Child Shall Lead Them

The thing with life lessons is that they often come when you’re not looking and when you least expect them. And, much of the time, you don’t even realize a lesson was taught until you have had time to sit back and reflect on things later.

One of the first lessons I remember my granddaughter, Haley, teaching me happened on the evening of May 27th, 2008. Haley was all of 15 months old at the time and our family was standing on a hill in a cemetery.

The days leading up to this had been filled with tears, decisions, and shock. My husband, Gary, had passed away unexpectedly on the 16th from a massive heart attack. We had no warning. From all appearances he seemed to be in perfect health. Only those who have experienced first-hand such a loss can fully understand. No one got to say a final goodbye. No one got to say a last “I love you.”

This particular day was the first of our year-long list of family celebrations and holidays that we would have to experience for the first time without our husband, father, grandfather, and son. And it was hard. Impossibly hard. It was Stasie’s birthday. Although we had the usual cake and ice cream and a gift or two, very little celebrating took place. Before she left the house that evening, Stasie asked if I would go with her to the cemetery. We invited others and, knowing a typical spring storm was approaching, 7 of us quickly loaded up in 2 cars and drove the couple of miles to the cemetery.

As we stood on that hill reminiscing, a gust of wind took us by surprise. Fifteen-month-old Haley immediately raised her arms in the air and began laughing and twirling around. The 6 adults just stood there, frozen in place, looking at each other — all fighting the urge to react the same way, but keeping our feelings in check. Was this appropriate? Should someone try to stop her? Almost as if on cue, we all turned our attention from little Haley to Gary’s then 93-year-old mother. What was she thinking?

To our relief, we saw her smile turn to laughter as the wind continued to blow. Soon others joined, not only in the laughter, but in the joy of the wind as well — complete with raised arms and twirling around. To us it was like an infusion of God’s Spirit, reminding us that death is not the end but, rather, the beginning of a wonderful, glorious, carefree life.

As the sky grew darker and sprinkles of rain began to come, we left the hillside. Less than an hour later, after the storm had passed, we were blessed with a glorious rainbow — yet another reminder of a God who loves us and who cares enough to make his presence known, especially in our darkest hours.

So, thank you, Haley, for taking the lead and reminding us grown-ups how to live. Death’s sting has been swallowed up in Christ’s victory. Hallelujah!

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Ok, God . . . I Get the Point!

Living life around a three-year-old can be exhausting and entertaining, but it can also be educational. God seems to be using my grandson, Nate, to teach me a lot of life lessons lately. Take the most recent one, for example.

Nate and I were alone for a short time while his mom took his older sister to school. During the course of those 30 minutes, he brought a single piece of candy to me, asking me to unwrap it for him. As his grandma, it was tempting to give in to his request. But, knowing it was probably not the best “second” breakfast option and knowing his mom would strongly disapprove, I declined his request, promising him he could have it later. (As a side note, due to recent revelations of a heart health concern, we are working toward reducing his sugar intake severely. Much easier said than done this time of year!) Anyway, Nate apparently didn’t like my answer, because he promptly left the room and took it upon himself to unwrap the candy and eat it. I know because he came to me a few minutes later with chocolate on his sweet little sheepish-grinned face!

Now that he was thirsty, Nate then asked me to get him a drink. I told him I would if he could wait just a minute while I finished what I was doing. He obviously didn’t wait because the next thing I knew, I heard him frantically yelling from the kitchen, “Grandma, I need you!”

Wasting no time in getting to the kitchen, I quickly saw what had happened. This sweet little chocolate-covered-faced three-year-old had taken it upon himself to pour his own drink. The result: one cup on its side, juice all over the counter, and one little boy standing there frozen in place, not sure what to do. I thanked him for letting me know about the mess and reminded him that he should have waited. I then proceeded to clean up his mess while he (now more patiently) stood there waiting for his drink.

One lesson, twice taught, in the course of maybe five minutes. That morning it dawned on me that, very often, my responses to God’s answers to my requests are not much different than Nate’s responses were to me.

I don’t like it when I bring a request to God and he tells me I need to wait. On more than one occasion I’ve walked away and treated myself to it anyway. I’ve charged ahead with my own plan or agenda to make my request happen in MY time. Then, when everything backfires and I have a full-fledged mess on my hands, I run to God, yelling, “God, I need you.”

When that happens, I can almost hear God sigh as he lovingly takes my mess and begins the process of cleaning it up, all the while quietly whispering, “Cheryl, honey, we’ve been through this before — if only you could have waited just a little bit longer.”

Early Morning Wake-up Call

One morning last week, I woke up earlier than normal and was not happy about it. It wouldn’t have been too big a deal except for the fact I had gone to bed a lot later than normal — I mean A LOT later! After 30 minutes or so of seriously trying to fall back to sleep, I surrendered and got up to begin my morning routine, knowing that my afternoon was going to be a long one!

As I began my Bible reading and journaling, my mind wandered and began replaying a mental video of something that had happened nearly 29 years ago — something I had not thought about in a very long time. I paused to take in the scene.

Christmas, 1984. My husband and I and two young boys had made the trek from our home in Tennessee to visit our families in Indiana. One afternoon as the boys, ages 2 1/2 and 1, were napping on the couch, my father-in-law parked himself on the floor directly in front of them. After watching them sleep for the first few minutes, he then spent the better part of the next hour gently kissing their foreheads, wrapping their fingers around his, patting their backs, and holding their tiny little feet. As the mother of these 2 busy bees, I sat there anxiously praying that he would not wake them up. They desperately needed their rest and I desperately needed mine! My father-in-law, however, desperately needed to shower them with his all-consuming love and affection. It was almost as if he couldn’t stand even these few minutes apart from them.

I can picture him now, excitedly rubbing his two hands together in anticipation to nap time being over. He had things he wanted the boys to see; things to do. In his delight, he didn’t want to waste a precious minute with his two young grandsons. Oh, to be loved like that!

Then it hit me! Is it possible I am awake because God, in his great love and affection for me desperately had something he couldn’t wait to show me? Something he couldn’t wait to share with me? Something so exciting that it couldn’t wait a couple more hours? Had God spent the 3 hours I did manage to sleep waiting at my side until he couldn’t wait another moment? Had God been holding my hand as I slept? Had God curled my fingers around his forefinger, admiring this creation of his? What an exciting thought!

So I promptly opened my Bible and began reading where I had left off, settling on a verse I just know God placed there years ago for me to discover that morning. Although the verse God gave me that morning was from Jeremiah, let me share another one with you that will speak to all of us no matter the circumstances of our lives right now: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1) What love this one daughter felt during that early morning hour!

By the way, I did fall back to sleep for another hour. And what a peaceful, restful hour that proved to be!

And my father-in-law? He passed away a short 6 weeks later, not able to fight the pneumonia that had settled in his already diseased lungs.

Thank you, God, for giving me this mental video some 29 years ago to be replayed in this early morning hour, reminding me just how much you love me. Thank you, God, for your all-consuming love and affection for me.