He always had you

“for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.'” Hebrews 13:5b NASB

True Life:

Recently, interesting situations and people have come into my walk that have reminded me of my dad who has been with the Lord five years. Just the other day, a new friend from church and I were riding in the car after a women’s leadership meeting. When I heard her say she used to work for IBM, I quietly asked if she knew a man named Earl Nichols. She suddenly jerked her head around to me as I was driving and cried out, “Did I know Earl Nichols? Yes!! I knew him!! How do you know him?”

“Well,” I said sheepishly, tears welling up in the corners of my eyes, “he’s my daddy.” She proceeded to tell me what a fine co-worker he was. Mind you, we’re talking over thirty-five years ago that she and my dad were in the same office. “I can remember his face right now,” she said. “Your daddy was a good man,” she added, looking straight in my eyes. We were at a stop light, by the way.

That was a few weeks ago. This past Wednesday, as I sitting in a doctor’s office, waiting on my husband to get finished, I heard the unmistakable click,click, clicking of a typewriter! I looked up from the magazine I was reading and said to the one person in the waiting room, “That’s a typewriter!! Who still uses a typewriter?” I got up and walked over to the window where the receptionist was sitting in her office in front of an IBM Selectric typewriter! I couldn’t believe it! I told her that machine helped put food on my table growing up. She smiled and said she loves typing on one til this day, and told of a young boy who came through the office and saw her typing and asked her what it was!

I cannot explain why all of a sudden different things are coming up to remind me of my daddy, but these incidents take me back to the years he was with us and causes me to reflect on what a wonderful upbringing I did have. However, it seems my childhood was rare, as I told a group of Christ following women whom I was just getting to know about two sentences of the story of the woman who had worked with my father and how she told me that he was a good man. Suddenly heads went down. What on earth did I say? I quickly played back the short exchange in my mind. I was clueless. Slowly, heads came up and even slower and quieter a couple of women said something like, my dad was mean to me; my dad was an alcoholic and it took two years after his death for me to forgive my dad. I was stunned. Heartbroken over their stories. And sad that these fifty plus year old women were still hurting over the abuse of their fathers to the point that they couldn’t utter a word of positive acknowledgement of my dad simply being a good man.

So I contemplated and thought, surely they are hoping their children are living the good mom-good dad story. Surely their hope for their grandchildren is that they’ll grow up in a “good daddy” home. And the Lord said to me, “I was there. Right with them.”

Here’s the Word for us today, Friends. We don’t choose where we are born; we don’t choose our childhood, we may not have been given the opportunity to know of the love of our Creator God for years. But God was there. Right with us. Drawing us to Himself. I have no answers for why some children are put in “good” homes with good daddys and why some are put in homes with hurtful or even negligent daddys. But when we come to the point where we can see the love of the Lord, let us look to His love and His hand on our lives. He is there.

My prayer is that you will see His provision even through the muck. My sister in the Lord, whose parents weren’t always the best, comes to mind.  He provided her a wonderful husband; her soul mate, her protection, her rock for over forty years now, along with three children and several grandchildren, all who follow the Lord.  Another sister in the Lord’s mother was mentally ill. He provided her a husband who is her rock, along with children, grand children and great grand children.

We can camp on the hurts or we can camp on His provision. I pray you’ll ask Him to remind you of the good things He has done in your life. We all have messed up, imperfect parts of our lives, things we wish had never happened. But if we live our lives in the regrets of the past, we’ll not appreciate or even see the healing and the presence of the Healer in the now.cropped-women-seeking-god-four.jpeg

On the other side of this story, He is reminding me to pray for those whose childhoods were not as mine. To be kind, sensitive and careful about sharing my past with others who are in the depths of healing. I pray that the Lord will use me to show women the hope that is Jesus Christ. He is the only perfect, loving, kind Father who has always had you.

True Word: 

Think of Me with you today;

I’ve always had you.

Lord, you gave me my mom and dad.

I’ve always had you.

When I made stupid choices,

You protected me.

I’ve always had you.

You prevented me from killing myself.

The man, he left, the marriage was history.

I’ve always had you.

You provided Doris, a spiritual mother for me.

I’ve always had you.

Later, you gave me my husband.

You gave us two wonderful sons.

I’ve always had you.

Your peace I didn’t comprehend,  but it was there.

I’ve always had you.

Grateful, Lord, for all you have done and are to Me.

And know now that you have always had me.

Do others know that through the mucky messiness of their lives,

You were always there?hand-on-shoulder

You provided, though they couldn’t see.

I’ve always had them.

 

Truth for Today:

“The Lord protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widows.” Psalm 146:9

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, Nor will the flame burn you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” Isaiah 43:1-3 NASB

https://youtu.be/WhbL4w2-Bwg – “Love” by Inhabited

 

The Gathering

“…..walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love…..” Ephesians 4:1-2

Our empty dinner dishes were pushed to the middle of the long table. You could hear contented sighs all round. We were settling in. We were grateful to Marie for having planned ahead and booked the back room of the restaurant. They were kind enough to not pipe the lovely classical music through the speakers.

Theresa, our fearless leader, looked around the room at each one of the nine of us that evening. “This being January, what did we learn from last year? What can you tell us about how the Lord took care of you?” Some groaned and shifted in their seats.

As I sat across from friends, some for many years, and others still getting to know, I reminded myself of what I had been thinking on the way to the restaurant that very evening. Listen. Don’t monopolize all the conversations! Take something home from the gathering! Not just what you said! Or how you felt! You just may learn something! Oh, I was preaching to myself! I had been to plenty of our once a month gatherings in the recent years, when new people were coming in to our motley group, as several had moved or just moved on. So, we were struggling with morale. Or, maybe I was struggling with morale. I was wrestling with whether I wanted to stay involved in the lives of these women. After all, I was already connected to several groups. Why one more? Several of the ladies I had drawn close to had moved on to other activities or moved out of the area. I was weary of having to make new friends at my age.

But something different happened when, in October four of us flew up to one of our longtime friends’ home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she and her husband had moved three years ago. We were forced to be together for five days, part of that time snuggled up in her home while a hurricane blew all around us. As the storm, now downgraded to a tropical storm was swirling the trees around us and poring buckets of rain over us, we were inside, working a puzzle, grazing at the kitchen bar, watching the local news/weather channel, chatting or napping. Following the storm, four of us left for the river cottage we had rented down on the Nuece River. Our friend, whom we had come to visit, had serious concerns about leaving her husband who had just had a serious medical emergency.

The long drive to the cottage and back; the time spent there and the early return to the house in Raleigh caused us to draw close, whether we liked it or not. We laughed, shared stories of our lives, and yes, even got a little short with one another at times, allowing for apologies. We enjoyed sunrises, sunsets, shopping, cooking and dining out. Truthfully, I was enveloped in the Lord’s deep peace throughout the entire trip. I was still so overcome with gratitude that I had been included that anything the other ladies did was just fine with me. I wasn’t bothered by any of their distinct personalities! I just was drawn even closer to them, because I realized that I needed them. I needed their honesty. Their frankness. Their vulnerability. Their love. And so I decided that even though there were new friends coming in to the group, I needed these women, even the new ones and an opportunity to love on them.

By the time we had gathered at the restaurant the other evening I had a new and deeper appreciation for this particular group of ladies, all of whom were in the same generation, most with husbands, grown children, some with grandchildren, some caring for elderly parents, all of us grappling with not just the empty nest but new purpose for the dailyness of our lives. What in the world had we learned from the past year?

Letting go. Choices. Expectations. Deserved. Obedience. Changes. Grappling. Loving inspite of.

As each one shared a portion of their year’s experiences, these words and phrases kept popping up and our heads kept nodding in agreement. We were having to let go of unspoken dreams for our children as they, now in their young adult-moved-out-of-the-house years were making choices we had no intention of them making when they were nursing at our breast. A live-in relationship over marriage was not in our game plan for any of our children. They were going to grow up to be solid faith-walking adults, members in good standing in some local Bible believing church, serve on boards and committees and be responsible adults and marry the right “we approve” man or woman and live happily ever after……down the street from us so we could play with their children, our grandchildren and then return them to their mom and dad when we got too tired.

Some of us were having to care for elderly parents when they didn’t “deserve” it. After all, they weren’t caring for me when I was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease several years ago, one new friend confessed.

As I sat listening and empathizing, it all hit me. Each of us well seasoned moms, doers, and studiers of the Word women were having to flesh out the Gospel! And it was not pleasant! It was walking in the muck of the messiness of our lives and having to consciously choose to live out all that teaching we had drilled into us from all those years of sitting in some church or ladies’ home underlining in our Bibles, memorizing a few verses here and there and lining our shelves with numerous Bible Study notebooks.

We were making choices to walk out the truths in the messiness of our family’s decisions. We were choosing to love our adult children as they were, keeping the communication open and our hearts listening. Praying all the more. We were choosing to care for our elderly parents with kindness and love in spite of the hour drive one way to their home to attend to all day doctor’s appointments, totally dismantling our preferred schedule and activities. We were not accepting our family’s unBiblical behavior; instead we were choosing to love, as Jesus commanded. And reserve judgement for Him, as He commanded.

After a closing prayer I  gave out tight genuine hugs and smiled at all my friends as we headed to our cars and back into the dailyness of our lives. I was glad I had chosen to come. Chosen to listen. Chosen to hear the hearts of sisters whose lives weren’t too different from mine. Not at all June Cleaver. But blessed. So aware of God’s provision. His faithfulness in each of our lives. Of His guardian protection over us and those we hold dear. So many blessings. Because we were choosing to live Christ. Not just hear the Word all these many years, but to be doers of it even when it wasn’t easy or what we desired at the moment. And we all acknowledged His profound peace when we obeyed.

Now……go out with Joy and be led forth in His peace.