Sunday, December 25, 2011

She Smiled

Even though she's a grandmother, her voice is quite youthful and unstrained when she sings. She's often found on her feet and in tears as she fills the church with her love and devotion for Christ so it's amazing how the words can flow with such ease. She and her husband stood in front of the church and sang for us recently and I'm always in awe the beautiful Faith they wear so proudly. They've lived through some gut wrenching heartache in their years here but the foundation they had together with Him, was enough to send them to their knees at times, and pick their chins up when needed. Their backs looked strong and so upright as their voices ran over the pews in refreshing waves.

This Christmas morning, as we all gathered in church to celebrate the birth of our Savior, she confidently played hymns on the piano. Her son stood behind her and sang warmly as he looked over her shoulder at the lyrics he probably didn't even need to read. I kept picturing him as if he were a little child and wondered if she too was remembering him as a young boy singing beside her as she couldn't remove the smile God put on her face. Her mouth moved silently with his song but only his voice was heard and she glowed with pride, and I could see it flowing from her.

Throughout the entire song, a tall, handsome, grown child stood near his mother. She continued to show the visual tenderness only this man's mother could display. I couldn't help but smile as I realized how He must feel. Not the man behind her but The One who died on a cross for her. I was sure He was smiling too as she devotes as much of herself to Him as anyone I've ever seen.

We had a beautiful service this morning and I'm so thankful for my church. Our pastor reminded me of something I probably never would have remembered if we had not attended today's service. Simplicity. He reminded us how simple and wonderful Christmas should be. He handed us all a piece of fruit and reminded us how wonderful it was to receive an orange or apple in your stocking as a child. I teared up as I held the fruit and remembered running to that stocking as kid and pulling out that orange. It was always the best tasting orange in the world. It was just an orange and still, everything but just an orange. It was simplicity.

Merry Christmas and Happy Birthday Jesus!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

She's Sorry She Can't Go to Heaven this Year

I love my child.
click image for larger view

Happy Birthday

Several of my friends know that I keep very little "things" such as drawings, school work, etc. even though I love getting these items from the kids, I just don't have space to keep EVERYTHING. I take photos of special items and keep a few of the most special pieces in a folder. I just wanted to share with you one of the most precious keep sakes I've ever received. It didn't even come from my own child but the little girl who drew this is a triplet. I was in awe of the drawing and it stayed on my fridge for several weeks to serve as a reminder. Most of us know the story of the three crosses. I asked the child when she gave me this if she drew everything in 3s since she was a triplet. She smiled and nodded her head yes but this was such a wonderful reminder and came at the perfect time.
Merry Christmas everyone and Happy Birthday to The One that died on one of these crosses for me!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

He Shines

We loaded up in the car, to take the little boy home who had spent the night with my son. He was needing to be home early this time because he had a big family holiday breakfast to attend. The clouds were covering the 8 o'clock sky and the warm air we'd felt on our skin the day before had gone. Our breath could been this day and we could feel the cold stinging our lungs.

We drove for miles and miles and the 10 year old boys chatted their usual conversations. The child asked me, "Hey Val, did I tell you I got Saved?" I smiled remembering how proud he was the day before when he announced it us. Conversation turned to how people decide when it's the right time, what it feel likes to be touched by Him and similar themed speech.

I looked over to our right and from one single break in the clouds, sun rays were shining down. It was so beautiful. I showed the boys and the child who now calls himself "my brother" said to us, "Oh yea! Guess God is shining down on someone in need."

Tears filled my eyes and I turned up the radio as I lost myself in thought. The rays were shining directly down where my friend lives. She's been in need of a lot of prayer this week. I had woke this morning with Saturday on my mind and I had completely forgotten...but He had not. He was lighting her day when everything else was so cloudy, and it was radiant.

I love these little reminders!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

My seat on the pew

I couldn't help but cry a little on the way to church. I knew my friend that sits by me at every service likely wouldn't show tonight. I knew she'd give anything to be sitting there in church but she had to bury a very important part of her family today...her grandmother.

I had no idea what comfort I could offer her if she did come tonight, other than friendship, compassion, sympathy. I miss my grandmother more and more as the days turned into months which have since turned into years since her death. What could I possibly offer my friend? I knew as soon as I walked in and saw the empty padded bench...I would give her my seat on the pew and hopefully she could feel church, even when she didn't get to physically be there.

I love Wednesday nights. Since it's often a smaller crowd that comes out on this night, the people who normally sit on the other side, come over to sit on the right-hand pews. I took my seat and even though I knew she wouldn't be able to come, I still felt disappointment when I looked to my right and saw no one. When I looked to the left though, my daughter and her tiny friend sat and conversed about a baby doll. I couldn't wait for the songs to begin and when they did, I could hear the tiny child sing the words. My daughter looked at me with astonishment that such a small child could know the lyrics to the old gospel hymns we sing. I looked around and heard some strong male voices coming in from behind me, and I waited. I knew what would soon take place that only happens on Wednesday nights, heard only from my seat on the pew when we combine on the one side.

The next song began I could hear them. Their elegant voices began individually from that pew directly behind me but quickly banded together in what was both soft and powerful but most of all, simply profound. I quietened my own voice so I could hear their song. My eyes briefly filled with tears when I wondered what I've done to deserve such beauty.

Another lady walked up front with a single sheet of paper in hand. I love hearing her sing too. She has such a pure and rich voice. She never sings with a piano, her voice is all she needs. I hear life pouring from her vocal chords as she too emits perfection for my ears to relish.

When our pastor began the message tonight, I quickly read the verse before he had a chance to vocalize the words and for once I understood it. It's not often I can read words from the Bible and understand them without interpretation but tonight I could.
Jeremiah 13:23 KJV
"Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil."

There are things we can't change about ourselves. There are lots of things I ask God for every, single, day. Simple things that may come natural for many, and I'm on bended knee asking for help...and that's okay, but through Him, all things are possible.
I missed my friend. I am thankful for those who could came out tonight. You just never know whose heart you're touching.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Families in Need

She pulled me aside and closed the door behind us. Worry was visible all over her face and I feared what she had to say. It became quite clear in those two minutes we spoke, that she had been burdened with something, she knew she had to resolve. Earlier in the week she had became aware of families in need. Children with no socks or underwear to their name, kids wearing shoes three sizes too small and parents working through the night, doing the best they can to provide for their family and still setting aside quality time, to volunteer at the school.

With over 80% of our children in this school on free or reduced lunches, sometimes, those lunches are all they get to eat all day long. We parents who spend countless hours in that school, cutting, gluing, volunteering whenever we can, see lots of children and often entire families in need...but thankful for what they DO HAVE, they are too proud to ask for help.

We would like to ask our community to pull together and donate items for these families in need. Gently used (clean) warm clothes of any size for small and large children and adults (even infants since several families have children not in school yet) are asked to be dropped off at West End Elementary on December 9 from 8:00 until 9:00 a.m. and again that same day from 1 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. We do ask that any socks or underwear be new but anything else such as sweat suits, tennis shoes, gloves, jeans, shirts, clothes suitable for church, etc. simply need to be clean and in good condition.

While many of us try to decide which coat matches our shoes the best, others are pinning clothes together because that's all they have. Again the drop off is next Friday so please ask your churches to consider these families in need.

This is hosted by a group of parents responding to families in need and not the school itself. Your questions should be directed to the parent volunteers during the event or via email. Please feel free to share this post with others in our area who may be interested in donating. The items will go to families associated with our school system. Thank you so much on behalf of all the parent volunteers!

December 9
West End Elementary at the old gym
in the back near the picnic tables
8:00-9:00 a.m.
1:00-2:30 p.m.