Wednesday, November 23, 2011
A Stone of Gratitude
He made a quick call right before his flight took off. He simply asked if I would go by the store and purchase a bag of smooth black stones. He was in a hurry and couldn’t explain but asked to please have them when we picked him up.
As we left the airport we were all looking forward to having lunch together as a family. Mark asked me to bring in the package of stones. I was still confused but did as he requested. Once lunch was ordered he looked across the table at us, reached into the bag, and handed each one of us a black, smooth stone. He began to explain what all he was thankful for. He said that as long as we maintain a heart full of gratitude there would not be room for a complaining and negative spirit. The smooth stone was to represent a reminder to stop and be thankful. He asked us to place the stone into a pocket or wallet that would always be within our reach and that every time we touched it to stop and take a moment to be thankful.
A few months later we came to Illinois to visit with my Mom and Dad. Mark brought two stones with him. As we were sitting together one evening he handed each of my parents a stone as he told them how thankful he was for them. He went on to share with them what he had shared with us months earlier. They took the stones and put them in their pockets. Throughout the visit they would pull them out and “was thankful”.
A couple years later my Dad became quite ill. His health was further complicated when he fell and broke his hip. As hard as he tried to recover he was met with a variety of health issues resulting in the weakening of his body. This strong patriarch that so many drew strength from became confined to his home and the freedom of coming and going was lost to him.
On December 14, 2008, I lost my Dad. How devastating it was to realize that he was truly gone. Months later my Mom came up to Mark and said she had something for him that she knew my Dad would want him to have. She opened her hand and lying in her palm was a smooth, black stone. With tears in her eyes she told us the story that as she went to put away the last outfit that he had worn she felt something in his pocket…it was his little smooth stone; his simple reminder to be thankful.
“In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”
I Thessalonians 5:18 KJV
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Mist of Confusion
The night air was crisp accompanied by a dark sky illuminated with a host of stars glistening like diamonds. As I glanced up I was quickly reminded of how magnificent our Creator really is. In our home everyone was finishing all their daily goals and making preparations for our Sunday morning service that was just a few hours away. The morning broke with a beautiful sunrise. With a yawn and a stretch our family was in full motion.
As the van was loaded with our children and instruments I noticed the tiny blades of grass that were covered with little crystals marking the season’s first frost. It was breathtaking! Backing from the driveway we began our way to our Sunday morning rehearsal.
We were only about a mile into our drive when it seemed like we drove straight into a white blanket. Slowing down to a mere crawl we were trying to make sure we turned into the intersection and not into a field. How could the road we traveled many times a day become so confusing? We continued the rest of our way with extreme caution as all that stretched before us was a misty cloud making us question where we were going.
I began to think of the beauty of the night before. How did that beauty become so engulfed in such a mist of confusion? Then I saw the sun trying to break through the mist. The ground had cooled so much during the night gathering all the warmth of the day before and sending it up in a mist causing darkness and confusion as the sun began to wake the world.
In our journey of life we are often so sure of the road we are traveling. We have our plans and many times we tell the Lord of them instead of asking Him to order our steps. It is when we allow ourselves to become “cool” and He shines His warmth our direction that a mist of confusion arises. We suddenly begin questioning our direction. What seemed so sure and clear the day before can suddenly change into confusion. He has plans for us. Great plans full of hope. Will we allow Him to guide our lives?
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV