It doesn’t change a thing

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While her husband was on a business trip, my younger daughter and her newborn son came to stay with us. What a joy it was to meet each morning through the wide-eyed wonder named Luke.

At five weeks he has already changed so much. Beginning to shake off the sleepy cloak that wraps a newborn’s mind, he is alert for longer periods during the day (and regrettably for his parents, during the night as well.)  When he is awake, his arms and legs engage in a constant stationary dance to music only he can hear.

This morning as he lay beside me on the couch pumping his tiny arms and legs, I began to whisper in his ear. Occasionally he would fix his eyes on me and seem to be soaking in every syllable.

“I love you Luke. You are so beautiful. And even though you really don’t understand how much I love you, it doesn’t change the fact that I do.”

It is doubtful that he understood a word of what I said, but my voice still commanded his momentary attention.

Sometimes I am just like baby Luke. When God calls me, my response involves thrashing around in a crazy stationary dance.  Stuck on the couch looking up at the ceiling lights, neither moving backwards or forwards, my is mind running wild.

What if I fail?

What will people think?

How can I accomplish something so far outside my comfort zone?

Then I remember the promises of God.

I remember that Romans 8:31 says if God is for me, then who can be against me? And according to 1 Thessalonians 5:24,  if God has called me to it, then God will see me through it.

When I’m stuck on the brink of a land flowing with milk and honey, tempted to retreat to Egypt, I can go forth in the confidence that God’s love lies ahead and behind me. Whether or not I believe the promises doesn’t change God.

He remains the same.

The only change is in me when I respond to His promises with faith and love. So when I am faithless and fretful I must listen closely for Holy Spirit’s truth.

The lovely reminder He whispers in my ear.

“I love you Anne. You are so beautiful. And even though you don’t understand how much I love you, it doesn’t change a thing.”

The Warning Signs

I’ll spare you the gory details, but I suffered a toe injury. Then thanks to my ability to minimize my body’s natural alarm system (PAIN means Alert! Alert! Attention needed!) it got worse.

I knew a visit to the doctor was warranted, but I kept putting it off. In part, because I didn’t want to hear any sensible advice (like stay off your foot) that might interfere with a two-day trip I had planned with some girlfriends.

So I ignored the warning and went on my trip. After the first day my toe was sore, but hadn’t really gotten any worse. However, the second day we did some extensive walking. By the time I returned home my toe was visibly swollen and throbbing with pain.

I scheduled an appointment at the clinic for the next day.

By morning my toe hurt so badly that I was unable to find a single pair of shoes I could tolerate wearing. After settling on some open-toed sandals, I made my way to the car using the ever popular step-drag method. Add a hump on my back and I could hear the bell towers of Notre Dame calling me.

It was when I stepped out of my car in the clinic parking lot that I knew I was in real trouble. Up to this point I had managed to downplay the impact pain had on my mobility. Now parking as close to the entrance as possible, the door still seemed like a football field away.

Two other women got out of their cars at the same time I did. One was about eight months pregnant. The other had her foot in a surgical boot. In the race to the front door I came in a distant third.

By a long shot.

During my appointment as I experienced some painful procedures, the practitioner threw around scary words like MRSA and staph infection. I left with two double doses of antibiotics and an appointment with a podiatrist.

All from a tiny innocuous injury to my big toe. Crazy, right?

But here’s the thing. Sin is like that, too.

Little words or actions I know are wrong get diffused in my mind. I begin to reason that what I said or did wasn’t “that bad”. Rejecting accountability by letting those sins continue without correction assures that inevitably things will get messy.

In reality, sin is sin. And when left unattended it can grow and infect.

Here’s just one example. (And in the name of truth I will admit that I have suffered the consequences as both the recipient and the perpetrator.)

Words have the ability to build up or tear down and sometimes the line gets slightly blurred. Ignoring that a cutting comment clothed in humor can diminish another’s self-worth, unkind words are uttered in a joking way.

I’m not saying that humorous or silly remarks are bad. It’s the manner in which they are spoken. When innocent remarks begin to morph into hurtful sarcasm the warning bell in our heads should begin to sound.

Why do we think that as long as someone laughs along with us, the verbal slap didn’t sting? The person who said “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is a liar.

Thoughtless words can land a permanent wound on the recipient. If I am not actively “encouraging one another and building each up” as Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:11, then I am in opposition to the Word and inviting sin to have a comfy spot in my heart.

By downplaying the damage, I can easily end up with a sin-sick soul in need of more than a double dose of antibiotics.

Fortunately, I know a really great Physician.

Heeding the warning signs of my sin, I can run to Him in sincere repentance and find that He is the antidote for any pain. Every cure, whether reprimand or restoration, is rooted in His abounding, unending love for me. Simply put, I can trust God to know what’s best for me.

Each visit yields another lesson learned and increases the likelihood that I will respond to repentance’s call the next time the alarm is sounded.

I am so thankful that the LORD’s clinic is always open for counsel and healing.

Free of charge.

It’s a good thing, too, for as much time as I spend there I could never afford the co-pay.

 

 

Sleeping baby

My grandson Luke is four weeks old today and I’m pretty sure he’s a genius of some sort. Although I have no demonstrable proof, trust me when I say that we Gigi’s are very intuitive about these things.

Just ask any of us.

Of course, be sure to allot enough time to see the pictures.

It might take a while.

One thing I can tell you for sure is that he has mastered the art of sleeping. My daughter swears to me that he opens his eyes and even cries on occasion, but I’m pretty sure she’s not telling me the truth. Every time that sweet little bundle is in my arms he demonstrates his superb sleeping skills. (I’m pretty sure Albert Einstein slept a lot as a baby.)

Occasionally he yawns, stretches a tiny arm up over his head and make a brief lamb-like bleat which I recognize as a baby prodigy-speak for, “Feed me.” I oblige with a bottle of milk his mother has supplied. He settles in, eyes still closed, lounging in the hammock that’s the crook of my arm.

While contemplating baby quantum physics, for sure.

Afterwards perched on my shoulder as I attempt to summon a burp, my husband manages to capture a wide-eyed picture. Unfortunately, he looks vaguely annoyed with me. (Luke, not my husband.) He was probably on the verge of a scientific break-through.

When I bring him back down to my arms he immediately lapses into a milk coma. Sweet baby sighs and soft rhythmic breathing follow.

Understandably.

Being brilliant is hard work.

 

How long?

The last day of school has finally arrived and the children are anxiously anticipating our awards program. Even though I have set the movable hands on the demonstration clock at the front of the room to 12:15 one little guy continues to ask, “How long ’til awards, Mrs. Gatts?”

After answering him multiple times throughout the morning I finally point to the clock and say, “What does the clock say?”

He screws up his face in concentration.

“3:00?’

“Try again. The little hand points toward the hour. The big hand tells how many minutes past.”

“Three after twelve?”

I sigh. Great. It’s the last day of school and he still doesn’t know how to tell time. Trying to maintain a happy heart I muster a smile.

“It’s 12:15,”  I tell him.

He smiles back.

“But how long ’till awards?”

This time I can’t help but chuckle.

“I tell you what, darlin’, ” I say. “When it’s time, I’ll tell you to line up. I promise I won’t let you miss it.”

His freckled nose crinkles up as he grins. “O.K.,” he says.

I get it.

Waiting is hard work. And not just for little boys. It’s hard for us big kids, too. It feels unnatural and uncomfortable.

“How long, O LORD?” I cry out. “How long before You hear my prayers and answer them?”

I want answers to my questions, solutions to my problems, sometimes even an end to my sufferings and I want it right now.

Today.

Actually, yesterday, if possible.

But God doesn’t schedule in His answers according to the calendar I keep. He loves me too much to rush the process. That intricate process of me becoming who I am to be.

Learning to be content in the waiting rooms of my life allows me to cultivate trust and obedience. Character traits that can only be grown in the slow, steady light of the Father’s perfect timing. Resting in the knowledge that God alone knows the when and where of my life.

So when impatience gets the best of me and I cry out, “How long, O LORD?” I can be confident that He sees me, freckled nose and all and says,

“I’ll tell you what, darlin’. When it’s time, I’ll tell you. And I promise I won’t let you miss it.”