God’s Faithfulness on Display

She stepped forward, pausing momentarily to set aside the music stand before flawlessly performing her entire flute solo from memory. With the air of a seasoned professional, she brought the mouthpiece to her lips. The audience watched silently, eyes glued on the teen whose body flowed in harmony with the melody she performed. Few among them knew her backstory, which is a profound testimony of God’s faithfulness.

More than a decade ago, her grandmother adopted her from parents who were heavily addicted to drugs. Taking custody cost every financial resource her single, working grandmother could muster, including her retirement savings. Moreover, with health issues stemming from prenatal exposure to drugs, this girl endured years of physical and emotional disorders. At times, it seemed an impossible task. Her grandmother consistently demonstrated that trusting in the Lord is the answer to overcoming every obstacle.

This pair have faced more than the average share of trials. Her grandmother had to find a way to work full time while managing her granddaughter’s homeschool education. They took on side jobs that allowed them to work together as a way to make ends meet. True, many friends came alongside them throughout the years to provide childcare, help with occasional meals, and run errands. But, as the grandmother attests, it is the prayers that God has faithfully answered with outcomes that awed and thrilled all who have participated in this journey. 

There is much to learn here about God’s faithfulness:

  • Pray – Make prayer a priority. Often, people call on the Lord as a last resort. This story is an example of what can happen when we call on God first, and trust him to provide the best, if not always the easiest, answer to our requests. It serves as a reminder to make your needs known to the Father, who gives generously to all who ask.
  • Persevere – I doubt anyone would have faulted this grandmother had she held back on providing the best possible education and musical instruction for her granddaughter. Her choices required countless personal sacrifices that she willingly made. This is a reminder that whatever is happening in life right now, “don’t quit” doing what is right. 
  • Participate – It takes a lot of humility to admit a need in a culture that praises successful individuals. But, God calls Christians to live in community and to share our ongoing needs with trustworthy friends. We all need help at some time along life’s journey. Your willingness to run an errand, bring a meal, or babysit for a few hours might seem insignificant. In reality, you may be doing the exact thing that is needed in the moment. Better yet, step up and offer to help before a request is made. 

Many friends who stood by this young lady and her grandmother through the years were present to watch her recital, blessed to experience the joy that resulted from God’s answer to their prayers and support. It’s a reminder to this writer that our Father rewards those who persevere under trials and to be thankful for all he has given. Gratitude is the word. 

When we pray, remember to begin with worship to God for who he is and thank him for all he has done for us. Trust that he understands our needs better than we do ourselves. The Lord will reveal his plans for our lives at the perfect time. That’s when we see his faithfulness on display.

“Let us not become weary in doing good,

for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Galatians 6:9

One Good Thing about 9/11

Prayer Focus

The entire nation was shocked when two planes piloted by Islamic Jihadists demolished the Twin Towers in New York City on September 11, 2001. Our collective sense of security was shattered. Repercussions rippled across our nation and around the world as the horror of the attack sank in. The act of terrorism did, however, serve to unite American citizens under the principles of freedom that are the foundation of our government. 

American flags appeared on homes throughout neighborhoods, non-church goers attended worship services, and the airwaves were bombarded with stories of near misses, survivors, and heroes who experienced the atrocity first hand. That unity crossed the boundaries of religion, ethnicity, and political ideology. Patriotism soared. “Never Forget” became the rallying cry. 

Sadly, within weeks people began to retreat from their united front. Flags flew less frequently and churches were no longer filled as the impact of 9/11 waned. Freedoms previously experienced by travelers were forfeited in the name of safety. Many of our grandchildren who  were infants or not yet born in 2001 have no recollections of airports without security screening or schools without metal detectors. 

Now, 21 years after that horrific act, some school systems are altering references to the event of that day from their curriculums. We are told it is to counter prejudice against people of certain ethnic and religious groups. With a spirit of love for all mankind, we are instructed to teach accurate historical truths to the generations that follow.

Do we need another foreign assault to bring us together? Hopefully not. The next assault against Christians is likely to come from within a nation that has forgotten the laws set down by our Creator God. The battles we face are in our homes, schools, and communities. As members of the army of God, our duty is to pass along God’s Truth to our children’s children.

“ And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws
as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely
so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen
or let them fade from your heart as long as you live.
Teach them to your children and to their children after them.”
(Deuteronomy 4:8-9)

As it relates to God’s Word, “never forget” is the cry every Christian grandparent needs to exclaim. Our grandchildren are depending on us. If there is any good lesson to learn from 9/11, it is the call for Christians to stand in unison and profess the Word of God to all nations.

Photo by Jonathan Meyer on Unsplash.

Music to My Ears

Get with the beat. Music has the power to lift spirits when the blues set in, add excitement to an otherwise dull day, and prompt anyone within hearing range to get up and dance (sometimes while they’re sitting in a chair). I am blessed to be married to a man who is a music aficionado. It means my days are filled with happy sounds.

Our grandson caught the vibe, learning to play enough guitar chords to strum the opening chords of Smoke on the Water before he opted for drums. With his Dad’s approval, we encouraged our grandson’s musical choice by financing lessons through his school’s music department. Lessons were done on a single drum pad, so we dangled the carrot of earning a new drum set once he completed every lesson in the beginner’s drumming book he was using. 

He began prompting us about the promise when he was nearing completion of lessons in the workbook. It was difficult to judge his proficiency, however, my husband and I decided to honor our promise. We prayed for God’s guidance in the selection. A few consultations with musical friends and product reviews later, we landed on a beginner’s electronic drum set. Our grandson accompanied us to the music store and practiced on a store model before we purchased a set. At our home where we set up the drums (because our grandson lives in an apartment), he took charge of figuring out how to manage the electronics and portable amp.

Our first opportunity to hear him play on a full electronic set was an answer to prayer. The following week, some friends brought guitars to jam at our house. Our grandson rewarded us by showcasing his strong, consistent drumming and flexibility to tackle new rhythm patterns. 

Through this experience, we learned to let our grandson show us where his interests lie instead of directing him to do what we think is interesting to him. Isn’t that what we all want anyway? The Lord has gifted us all with different talents and abilities. Embrace them in your grandchildren, no matter where they go. It’s all part of a beautiful, diverse symphony of talents.

The Gift of Freedom

My grandson and I sat in our folding chairs, watching as the carnies dismantled the festival rides beneath a sky bursting with 4th of July fireworks. It was the first time I viewed fireworks from this perspective, in the middle of a basketball court with a few other family groups gathered nearby doing the same. We chose this location because it avoided the hordes of onlookers that descended on the city’s lakefront where the pyrotechnics were launched.

As crews worked at removing a ferris wheel, merry-go-round, and other rides from their positions and loading them piece-by-piece into semi trailers, my thoughts landed on the reasons we celebrate Independence Day.

A huge, sparkling aerial display above the carnival grounds recalled the many battles that had been fought to defend our freedom. It’s the same message that appears on a t-shirt I sometimes wear with the message “Freedom is Not Free” atop an image of the American flag. It seems many in our nation have forgotten this reality. My grandson and I spent a few minutes talking about the sacrifices military personnel have made to ensure our freedom.

The chatter from the work crew prompted my grandson to comment that they were having fun at work. During my younger years, I might have thoroughly enjoyed traveling around the country bringing summertime entertainment to different communities. There are seasons in life for us to utilize the various talents and abilities that have been bestowed upon us by God. We are blessed in our nation with opportunities to use and develop our individual gifts.

After the fireworks’ finale, we folded up our chairs and walked back to our car under the dim light of a few streetlamps. As a woman, it is my habit to take note of my surroundings; I felt safe here. That is not true everywhere, including some places in the metropolitan area where we reside. I silently thanked the police officers who watch over our community and respond to calls for help. I appreciate their willingness to head into dangerous situations to protect me should the need ever arise.

None of us have a choice of where or when we enter this world, or the circumstances. We don’t get to decide when we will leave it. But we have been given freedom to choose how we will live out our time and where we will be once that time on earth has ended. When we put our faith in Christ as our Savior, we are assured of eternal life with Him in heaven. 

“For by grace you have been saved through faith.
And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,
not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9

Christ has already paid the price for our freedom. I am happy to say both my grandson and I, along with many other family members, have chosen His gift. This free gift is available to everyone who asks with a sincere heart. May freedom ring in your heart forever.

Showers of April Blessings

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5

One of the most popular verses in the Bible, found on coffee mugs, wall hangings, or bookmarks is Proverbs 3:5.

I suspect this is because we find comfort in knowing God looks out for us. When life is going according to our plan, it is a lighthearted reminder. And, when we face the inevitable difficulties of life, this verse becomes a spiritual lifesaver, especially when it is accompanied by the next verse, Proverbs 3:6, that reads “In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight”. 

God never fails to deliver on his promises.

When my grandson was less than one week old, I asked him to give me the opportunity to teach him about Jesus. God’s faithful response throughout the decade that followed made it clear that he wants me to follow up on my commitment. Whenever my path seemed to be heading to a dead end, an opportunity opened up to continue with biblical training. 

What the Lord has done for me, he can do for you. Your testimony is uniquely your own, however, the command to bring your faith to light with grandchildren is common to all believers. It begins with your request for favor over your grandchild, and your unique style of sharing your faith in God. 

You can always count on God. I know God will care for you. Trust Him when…

Take a Break

Photo by Barb Howe

It surprised me to count the number of grandparents I know who are involved with raising their grandchildren. I’m not talking about the ones who get to see them during occasional holiday visits. I’m talking about the ones who are on the front lines of child rearing, supporting their adult children. It’s a tough job to keep up with the energy level of anyone younger than 20 years of age when you’re sporting a crop of grey hair. 

Allow yourself to take a break. It’s a good idea for everyone involved, including those grandchildren. Breathe deeply, take in the splendor of all the good things God has given. Genesis reminds me that He placed the first man and woman in a garden, so gardens are where I like to be when rejuvenation is what I need. A large, public landscape garden near my home is where I go to find year-round periods of refreshment.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.”
Psalm 62:5 

Visiting this place also reminds me that any challenges I am facing have already been resolved by the Creator of all things. It gives me pause to recall the many times He has carried me through trials of many kinds. My job is to allow Him to work in me, to continue the transformation of my heart, so I can be more like Jesus. It is a huge task.

His reward to me is the blessing of peace, joy, and love. Perhaps that is why, in the first chapter of Genesis, God rested on the seventh day. I believe he was demonstrating to us the need for periodic moments of down time. It’s as if He is telling us to “take a break” so we can be reminded that our grandchildren truly are a blessing from the Lord.

“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”
Psalm 116:7 

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Compare Notes

Photo courtesy of Alvaro Serrano on Unsplash

Admit it, the world we live in doesn’t always make sense. A quick glance at the news reminds us that our country is undergoing a long season of trepidation and rebellion. Given the conflicting deluge of messages thrust upon us daily, it’s nearly impossible to know what to believe. Thankfully, there is one source of information we can rely upon for absolute truth: the Bible. Eternal wisdom flows from its pages.  

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God,
keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations
of those who love him and keep his commandments.”
Deuteronomy 7:9

We probably all have concerns for our grandchildren’s physical and spiritual well being. Having many decades of experience, we’re reminiscent of the Farmers Insurance ad tagline, “We know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” Our perspectives and collective wisdom are vital for these young ones. That old cliche’ reminding us “it takes a village to raise a child” hits home here. Please, allow God to be at the center of it all. 

It is a blessing to have friends that share the same concerns for their grandchildren as I do for my grandson. We support one another with prayer, encouragement, and advice, much as mothers of young children do amongst themselves. Think of it as comparing notes with other people whose ultimate goal aligns with yours: to spend eternity with our grandchildren and other believers in heaven. Be sure to bring a notebook the next time you meet.

 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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