This clip is the finale of Will’s concert last week. He said to his dad the other night, “I just love the organ.” You can’t give a passion to a son or daughter. It’s either in them, or it isn’t. The variety of talents God gives children is astonishing. When they develop those gifts, whatever they may be, they point back to the Creator.
We’re in the throes of moving, with one house on the market while another is being readied for move-in. It’s that stage when chaos reigns! Lord willing, we will be past this stage soon. In the midst of the move, Tom and I took an evening off on the 30th to celebrate our 20th anniversary. We tried out a restaurant we hadn’t been to before, and we enjoyed it greatly.
As we pack up our home of nine years, so many memories come to mind. This is where children left home, with the last son off to college again in the fall. This is where we brought our delightful surprise baby, Emmy, home almost six years ago. Birthday parties, anniversary parties and so many celebrations took place here. This is where Will got his start practicing the organ in the basement and he and his dad have filled the walls with music. Much joy, some sadness, but lots of love.
It isn’t the walls that make a home. It’s the people who make it a joyful or tragic place. Tom has given all of us a beautiful life, and together, Tom and I are a team . we give full credit to God’s grace for carrying us through.
Every home is temporary on this planet, including the home we have in our bodies. Our souls are forever. Packing up things for Goodwill or give-away, I was thinking again of how yesterday’s happy purchase is today’s discard as we outgrow and no longer need things. Our heavenly home is forever, where nothing will fade, and nobody will age, and where all sadness will be wiped away forever. Thanks be to God for his gift of Jesus Christ through whom we have forgiveness of sins and life eternal.
Now, back to packing!
A little music burst for your day from J.S. Bach. The joy on the face of the conductor says it all! Here are the words in English:
Ring forth o songs, resound, you strings!
O most blessed time!
God Himself shall prepare our souls for His
From Bach Cantata 172
In this video from long ago, Steve Green sings the 16th century battle hymn by Dr. Martin Luther. “The body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still. His Kingdom is forever!”
As the sun was getting low in the sky last night, Tom and I stopped by with a load of things for our new home. I went out alone to our fenced in garden and just stood there for a moment taking in how beautiful the sun was on the flowers. A poem by a 19th century Englishman that I first read probably 25 years ago came to mind in the cool night air.
A GARDEN is a lovesome thing, God wot!
The veriest school
Of peace; and yet the fool
Contends that God is not—
Not God! in gardens! when the eve is cool?
Nay, but I have a sign;
‘Tis very sure God walks in mine.
~ Thomas Edward Brown
We may not be able to change the world individually, but we can tend well to our own gardens that God has given us and make our lives and families a thing of beauty. Here’s my new garden! This is the portion behind the white fence and gate. We are grateful for the Lord’s provision.
My brother-in-law Russ recorded this beautiful song with his wife Lisa on the piano.
Your love endured the cross
Despising all the shame
That afternoon when midnight fell
Your suffering cleared my name
And that sin-swept hill became
The open door to paradise
Because you paid so high a price
You paid much too high a price for me
Your tears, your blood, the pain
To have my soul just stirred at times
Yet never truly changed
You deserve a fiery love
That won’t ignore your sacrifice
Because you paid much too high a price
Your grace inspires my heart
To rise above the sin
And all the earthly vanity
That seeks to draw me in
I want to tell this jaded world of love
That truly saved my life
A love that paid
So high a price
There are lists all over the place online such as, 10 Things to Always Do in Your Marriage, Five Things Never to Say To Your Spouse, 20 Ways to Affair Proof Your Marriage, and so forth. Good articles and lists can be good thought provokers . That isn’t what this post is.
It will be 20 years on June 30 since I married Tom. I’m writing this early, as I am in the middle of a move (our next big adventure), and I won’t be able to six days from now. Looking backward, I don’t have great prose, lofty advice or a smug account of how we’ve made it this far. God’s love and grace is the only explanation.
I knew the first time I laid eyes on Tom that he was a fine man. It’s one of those instinctive things I can’t explain. I’ve heard people describe love at first sight. Yes, there is such a thing. On this 20th anniversary, the only thing that has changed is that I love him more. It’s because of him that I know God’s love is a real thing. I see it in him every day in how he loves me and our children. Constant, faithful, kind and decent to the core. That’s who Tom is.
Coming back from a walk the other night, we admired the birch tree he planted a few years ago in the front of our home. It’s thriving. In each home we have lived at through the years, Tom has left something living behind. At one house, it was shrubbery. At three others, he has planted birch trees. He grows things and fixes things. One of the first things he ever did for me as a single parent before we were married was to repair a broken leg on a chair. What’s broken he restores with careful hands.
We’ve gone through a lot in 20 years, weathered a lot of storms. Sometimes he leans on me, sometimes, (most of the time), I lean on him. Sometimes we lean into each other to keep from falling over. That’s what a life’s partner is all about. Just two people, walking through everything together, and looking up to realize a lifetime has gone by.
(The photo on this post is one I kept on my dresser through the months before we were engaged and then married. My favorite snapshot of the man who changed my life.)
A friend of mine posted this on FB, and I remembered it from when I was in high school. Great song. Mike and the Mechanics. It cuts both ways, doesn’t it? The living years – we only have them for so long. Soon it’s too late when we die. Don’t ignore the hand that reaches out, parent to child, child to parent. We don’t get another chance when we’re gone.
I knew a pastor once whose church had “full altars.” (Baptist churches aren’t supposed to have altars, but that’s the terminology.) That meant that every time he gave an “altar call”, people would walk down the aisle to “get right with God.” He preached ceaselessly against moral sin and held his congregation to an unwavering standard of clean living. Pants weren’t allowed on women. Rock music wasn’t allowed. A glass of wine was never allowed. Card playing wasn’t allowed. Movies weren’t allowed. These were things of the flesh that must be expunged to live right and do right.
The problem was, the preacher had a waist high stash of porn in the closet of his “pastor’s study” (pre-internet porno fans had to actually get the mags) and was having an affair with one of the teachers in his Christian school. She didn’t wear pants, but adultery with the preacher man was OK if she wore culottes for the photos he kept in his desk.
The pastor was a serial adulterer who had women all over from the churches he had destroyed, it later came out. But a more grandfatherly appearance would be hard to find. White shirt and tie and big Bible in hand, he ascended the platform Sunday after Sunday to play the weeping Jeremiah, appealing to his erring flock to turn off the TV’s and rock stations and turn to Jesus.
The nausea of discovering that someone I looked up to was, in fact, a fraud and a scumbag, remains to this day. I had once talked with this pastor, in my youth and naivete believing he had something to offer in the way of good counsel. Frauds are disillusioning. Spiritual frauds are the worst.
There is an old poem that beings with these words:
“True worth is in being, not seeming…”
I know another man. He’s never had a radio show or a pulpit or a blog or anything else. He quietly lives his integrity day in and day out. He is a good man, but would quickly admit that he has his flaws. I know of his integrity not because of the great moral lessons that he gives with his mouth or his grand spiritual proclamations. I know he’s a good man, because I’ve seen how he’s lived and how he treats others for the last 20 years. For him, it has been about being, not seeming to be something he is not. He’s my husband. What a difference.
On Facebook recently, there was a discussion about the importance of shutting off the Big Media voices and getting back to basics in our lives. We don’t need Big People to tell us how to be. The hypocrisy in Christian media land is breathtaking. I would add that God is exposing it all over the place. We don’t need people with failed private lives lecturing us on how to live, what to do and how to please God. The good thing is, we have the treasure of the Word of God for each of us, available 24/7. There is truth. There is what we need to know. At a time of growing darkness and spiritual fraud, the simplicity and concept of being, rather than seeming, needs a comeback.
Love God, love your neighbor, mow your grass, take care of your family, help someone in need. These are the details that need attending to. Have a spiritual calling? That’s great. Do you have a spouse and children? Choose to make a family? That’s your first calling and it’s far more important than any Big Important Thing you do on the side. The sheep running after this Big Voice and that one over there aren’t being helped .Putting people on pedestals who have their own personal rot behind the scenes adds nothing to our own spiritual lives, and sets us up for a crash when the truth comes out.
Our children will thank us for being real, rather than seeming to be something we are not. They spot fakes a mile off, don’t kid yourself. What’s needed is everyday faithfulness, everyday forgiveness when we blow it, everyday humility to admit when we’re wrong and lots and lots of love to cover it all.
That’s what being a real Christian in a fake-o world is all about.