Love To Last A Lifetime

There is something about mature, long lasting love that outshines the passions of young love.

My parents were married for 71 years. Jay’s parents were married for 63 years. They enjoyed life together, weaving a blanket of memories that warmed their last years and brought comfort to the one left on earth after the other was promoted to Heaven.

They survived wars, the depression, deaths, and numerous other challenges that caused major disruptions in life. When they got knocked down, they helped each other up and soldiered on together.

They saw each other change from young people into middle aged people and on into old age. They were still just as beautiful and handsome to each other as they always had been.

They were affectionate to the end, holding hands, hugging and kissing. As they aged, they were constantly at each other’s sides. They were there for the final earthly goodbyes.

They taught us how to live with God as The Center of Life. They taught us, not only with words, but through their lives. They prayed in front of us, they prayed with us, they prayed long distance. They asked us to pray for them.

Especially in their latter years, all four of them were transparent about the struggles they had experienced in trying to live a Godly Life. They shared honestly about their weaknesses, but affirmed with Joy how strong God was in lifting them up.

They acknowledged that relationship building that goes the distance takes work. It is a commitment to persistence. It takes being willing to sacrifice “me” for “us.” It is a Promise kept to always, always be there and never quit.

I still smile when I remember what my father told me about never giving up. When he was 96 years old, I told him I never really remembered he and my mother arguing much.

He laughed and said, “Oh, there were plenty of times when we didn’t agree. We’d get mad about something, usually something silly.”

I asked Daddy how they settled things. He said, “Well, I would get out and walk up town and back … and then we would try again. I was usually pretty tired by then, so I didn’t want to argue too much.”

I asked him if that happened very often. Again he laughed and said, “Well, it happened enough. How do you think I got to 96? It was all that exercise!”

Jay and I have been married for 42 years, a drop in the bucket next to our parents. But we have already shared a lifetime of experiences that have taught us and refined us in the fires to become who we are today.

We are blessed by the great legacy our parents left us, and we hope to be adding to the Jones story for as long as God allows us to be the Jones team together on earth.

May we all be blessed as our parents were, and as David described in Psalm 92: 12-14.

“Righteous people flourish like palm trees and grow tall like the cedars in Lebanon.

They are planted in the Lord’s house.

They blossom in our God’s courtyards.

Even when they are old, they still bear fruit.

They are always healthy and fresh.”

Friends

Tonight I am thinking of all those who have been my friends over the years.

Some of you were friends from childhood.

Some I met in college or through careers.

Some I met in churches or other small groups.

Some were and are neighbors.

Some of us shared dreams together, like writing, teaching or raising children.

Some friends were for a season. We shared life, but then went our separate ways. You are still an important part of my life, and I remember you.

I parted with some friends unwillingly, as they were promoted to Heaven. I still think of you and feel your smiles from above. I look forward to seeing you again.

Some friends were not only friends, they were family. We not only shared DNA, we shared life and made memories to keep forever.

And yes, I love my Facebook friends. While many of us know each other “in person,” some of you I met here. We discovered we had things in common after being introduced through others. I look forward to your comments and pictures. I love getting responses when I share.

You remind me of the wonder of how God created us to have much in common, and yet retain our own uniqueness.

And I think of what a Friend We Have In Jesus, one of my father’s favorite songs. Jesus valued His Friends too.

Jesus said, “I have called you FRIENDS, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15

Thank you for being my friend.

The Crossroads That Lead To Happiness

There are crossroads in life. Sometimes as we pause there, we sense that something is about to be different.

Whichever way we go, things will never again be the same. A curtain to the universe has been pulled back slightly. The wind has shifted. There is some awareness we did not have before.

It is a crossroad.

In the mid seventies, I was getting ready to return to my native South Carolina after a few years in Kentucky.

Then one night I met Jay. It was a strange meeting by anyone’s assessment. I was a nurse on a locked psychiatric ward. He was the neighbor of my best friend. She prevailed upon him to bring us a pizza at work and he did.

After work, we talked. My friend left to meet another friend. Jay and I talked into the wee hours of the morning.

I don’t remember what we talked about, but I do remember he asked me if I was happy.

The words seemed to hang there in the dark. It was not philosophical. It was not some veiled offering that he could make me happy. It was not even his poking around my being to see if I possessed the secret to happiness.

It was a simple question that seemed a pause in life … a stop at a crossroad. Was I happy? My circumstances at the time would have screamed, “No I am not happy.”

But as to the question of what would bring me happiness, I did not know. And I don’t remember how I answered his question that night.

But I knew when we went our separate ways that morning, something had changed in me. It was subtle. It was that ripple in time.

And though I did not know it then, the cold breeze I felt was the lack of what I never knew I lacked. It was a feeling akin to longing, but I did not know what it would take to fill that empty spot.

That afternoon, I was on my way to work. I was stopped at a stoplight. An ambulance passed in front of me. Jay, who was an EMT, was in the passenger seat. He did not see me. But my heart jumped at the recognition, and I realized I was feeling joy.

That empty spot was temporarily filled. As quickly as the Joy came, so did fear. Jay was not a part of my plan. I doubted I was a part of his plan. In fact, I did not know if I would ever see him again. I only knew that in that moment of seeing him, even from a distance, I was happy.

And, as it turned out, we were a part of God’s Masterful Plan. Over the next two years of a long distance relationship (Jay moved to another city), we both found we were happy (mostly) when we were together and not so happy when we were apart.

We got married. And 42 years later, I can honestly answer his original question of whether I am happy with a resounding “Yes.” (Most of the time)

Five weeks ago, Jay had open heart surgery. Ironically, the hospital is located at that very crossroad where I saw Jay that day after I met him.

It was another time the curtain of the universe parted a little. As he was being wheeled away from me, I realized once again that feeling of longing. But now I knew the source of the feeling. Jay had a part of my heart as I had his.

As I let go of his hand, I said, “I love you. Take care of our heart.” And so I held my part of our heart in prayer while he slept. And he held his part in his dreams.

And God held both parts close together, as the surgeon worked.

We are so thankful Jay is recovering. Today he began his cardiac rehab program. Cardiac Rehab is located on the top floor of an office building that overlooks that same crossroad where I saw Jay that day.

As he exercised and I looked out the window, I reflected a bit on life. I thought of all the unexpected highs and lows … all the times I thought I was so lost I would never be found … and how God “found” me every time.

And I remembered the young man from long ago and the slightly older man now, who turned out to be God’s Answer to my happiness.

I am blessed and thankful.

God Will Take Care Of You!

When I was growing up in South Carolina, there were frequent storms that would knock out the electricity.

My mother would light candles or get out the old kerosene lamps to provide some light. Then she would hold me on her lap and sing the hymn, “God Will Take Care Of You.”

In spite of the thunder, lightening and the dark, I felt warm and secure. My mother’s voice was strong, clear and confident. It was obvious she had been in storms before and she knew what to do.

Now as I face adult storms, I have returned to my mother’s method of dealing with them.

When I go to bed at night, I sing hymns. Sometime ago, God prompted me to sing the words of the hymn as He would sing them to me.

Example, in The Hymn, “God Will take Care of You “—

It is written,

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,

God will take care of you;

Beneath His wings of love abide,

God will take care of you.

God will take care of you,

Through every day, o’er all the way;

He will take care of you,

God will take care of you.

God sings it to me as,

Be not dismayed whate’er betide,

I will take care of you;

Beneath My wings of love abide,

I will take care of you.

I will take care of you,

Through every day, o’er all the way;

I will take care of you,

I will take care of you.

There is no better way to go to sleep than to have The Lord of The Universe sing you a lullaby.

Last night, I had been struggling with a respiratory problem. As I coughed and fretted, I was not sure I could sing. But I did so in faith, hoping the praises of my mouth would soothe all parts of me.

Much to my amazement, the song came out clear and strong. After I had sang a couple of verses, I was ready to go to sleep.

However, The Lord said, “I not only take care of you. I take care of others. Let’s sing to them.”

And so we did. We visited different people in spirit. As far as I know, I never physically left my bed, but Spiritually God and I made the rounds.

Our first stop was to see my friend, Mary. Mary has also been battling an illness that causes coughing. We sang to her, assuring her God would take care of her. I imagined us gently tucking her in and bringing peace to her body, mind and spirit.

We visited others, the sick, the grieving, the lonely, the lost. With each visit, I relaxed more and more, knowing that God had given me a tremendous blessing. He lifted me out of my self pity and allowed me to travel with Him and hear His Words of Assurance over and over again.

I drifted into sleep with His Words not only in my mouth and ears, but in my spirit.

I feel sure God would welcome you into His traveling choir. Not only will He boost your spirit, but you may come sing to me in spirit. I’d really like that!

Life’s Final Exam

What if at the end of our physical life on earth, there was only a one question final exam?

What if God reviewed our life and asked “How well did you love My Creations?”

This is what Jesus said in answer to a questioning student.

“Teacher,” he asked, “which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus answered, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and the most important commandment.

The second most important commandment is like it: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”

Matthew 22:36-39

“You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:43-45

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

John 13:34-35

What Love Looks Like When It Is All Grown Up!

I have had the joy of being with our grandson for the past several weeks.

As I held him, and he held me by his tiny finger, I had moments of dega vu. Why did I feel like I had been there before?

The smile cinched it. I had been there. Little Gideon looked like Jennifer, our daughter, at that age. While I recognized him for the unique person he is, it truly felt as though the confines of time had been rolled back, and I was cuddling my baby again.

Even though we playfully refer to our daughter as “the baby” she will always be to us, in fact, she is a grown woman, independent, smart, and multitalented. Besides loving her, I admire her.

She has a certain confidence I lack. She is a problem solver. She is optimistic. She is never lost.

Even when she has taken detours in life, she was always on the way to something or some place better. When I doubted, she never did.

She is passionate. She believes strongly. She argues decisively. She expects much of herself and everyone else.

But I can no longer cuddle her. She is no longer dependent on me. She no longer smiles or laughs if I make funny faces or dance. In fact, she would probably be annoyed if I tried to elicit her approval by those methods.

We now share love in a different way. And no where has that been more evident than during the past few weeks.

When she learned her Dad was having open heart surgery, Jennifer did not hesitate. She flew from California with her husband and less than three month old baby and stayed with us for three weeks.

She anticipated a certain level of assisting with care for her Dad, but neither of us could have anticipated the intensive level of care I would require.

I had an autoimmune flair probably brought on by stress. It provoked all kinds of symptoms. I was not able to walk but for short distances.

Thyroiditis elevated my heart rate and brought on anxiety attacks. (And it did not help that there were plenty of things to be anxious about, even if one did not have thyroid problems!)

Jennifer bought and pushed me in a wheelchair, loading and unloading it multiple times, sometimes in the rain or from remote areas of the hospital parking lot.

She drove me on anxiety reducing rides, got gas for the car, got groceries, took both Jay and me to doctor’s appointments, picked up prescriptions, and too many other things to count.

She smoothed the waters at home when Jay had an untoward medication reaction, which caused him to become agitated … which made my anxiety issues worse.

Jennifer did all this in addition to working remotely at a local office and taking care of a new baby at all hours of the day and night.

I am truly amazed and so very thankful for Jennifer. She was Love in action, the kind of Love that goes far beyond a smile or a cuddle.

She saw us as we were, came without hesitation, and gave sacrificially. She said, “I’ve got you. We can do this.”

And I believe Jesus smiled and said, “Amen. As you have done it to these, you have done it unto Me.”

Meeting The Grandson!

It’s been awhile since I held a baby.

For the past week we have had the joy of meeting our grandson and spending time with our daughter and son in law.

In the midst of the crisis of getting Jay through heart surgery, there was little time to do more than admire in passing.

But today, I got some real cuddle time with baby Gideon. I am totally wowed!

I had the thrill of holding a nearly new life in my arms …

The delicate skin …

The new baby smell …

The tiny fingers and toes …

The smile!

I had the sense of awe that comes with the realization that a couple of years ago, this little life only existed in The Mind of God.

I think of how God made His Perfect Plan dating back many generations, bringing people together at just the right moment and bringing forth other people from their union.

I think of how nothing happened by chance, but was carefully orchestrated by a Loving Creator.

The same Creator Who set the stars in place and called them by name, created this tiny life I am holding in my arms. He brought him to earth at a precise moment.

He prompted his parents to call him Gideon Micah. God has Plans for Gideon, yet to be revealed. He has Plans for all who will follow him. He has Plans for all of us.

Today I experienced the wonder of looking into the eyes of wonder. I found again the unspeakable Joy that comes from a shared smile that says, “Yes, I know you and I love you!”

Prayer Request — PRAY = Power Released Among You!

This is a prayer request. We would appreciate your prayers and the prayers of anyone else who will pray.

PRAY = Power Released Among You!

Many years ago, a Kentucky man stole my heart. He never gave it back.

The celebration event of a wedding in 1977 was only a public revelation of what we had already come to know. Our hearts beat as one (Well, most of the time. There were those times when we fibrillated. 🙄).

The Love of My Life is having surgery on our (his)heart on Tuesday. We would appreciate prayers.

Sometimes when someone is facing surgery, we pray for the patient or the surgeon. Both are important, of course.

But we also pray for the whole team … anesthesiologist, nurses, technicians, and others. Everyone has an important role to play.

We pray they would skillfully do the tasks to which God has called them and do so with all The Love and Compassion of Christ.

We pray they will realize the wonder of the body God has created and how privileged they are to be able to view it from the inside.

We pray they would not be distracted by the wonder, but that it would spur them on to do their very best work.

And we pray for each person even over this weekend, that they be rested and fresh for the work of the coming week.

Finally we pray we may be good witnesses of God’s Love and Power. We know we will meet people in the hospital we may not have met anywhere else.

We are, in fact, missionaries, sent out to do God’s Work. May we not become so distracted by our own needs that we forget why we are there … to be present in the joys and sorrows of others … to share life.

We commit our hearts to You, Lord. You are The One Who created them. You are The One Who reminds us constantly of Your Presence by continuing to knock as our heartbeat.

You are here. You will be there. You are with us always. We reach out in faith, knowing you will also surround us with our family and friends and all who will pray to you in agreement with Your Will.

Be strong and take heart,

all you who hope in the Lord.”

Psalm 31:24

Trust In The Lord!

Last year God gave me the focus Word, “revelation.” And wow, 2019 was full of revelations. Some were exciting. Some were comforting. Some were very unsettling.

But each revelation led to more revelation of The Living God, Who lives inside me …

The One Who steadily reminds me of His Presence by continuing to knock on the door of my heart …

The One Who loves and guides me, even through very choppy waters …

The One Who celebrates with me every time I discover Him again …

The One Who makes all things new again and again!

The Word He has given me for 2020 is “trust.”

The scripture He has given me is

Proverbs 3:5-6.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart

    and lean not on your own understanding;

in all your ways submit to Him

    and He will make your paths straight.”

I can tell already I will have more growing to do. I rely a lot on my own understanding. I am not very good in submitting all my ways to Him.

But I want to. Even as I hesitate at the door to 2020, I hear His Call of “Follow Me!” I can hardly wait to see what new revelations lie ahead!

Song Of The Ages

I love music.  As I enjoy songs written long before I came to earth, I think of what a wonderful connector music is.

The song writers essentially left us a map by which we can join them in the chorus.  They had no idea that many years after God sent the tune to them, there would be others singing their songs.  They simply wrote in their time and place for the joy of the music.

As others picked up the melodies, they passed them on, until the songs reached us.  And we now have the joy of passing them on.

Not only does music join us with the original writers, but it also joins us with others near and far.

When we hear certain songs, we are transported back in time to places we were when we first heard the music.

We think for a moment of those who once shared the music with us.  If we have lost touch, we may smile and wonder if they are out there somewhere hearing the music and smiling too.

Music speaks for us.  When we find we have no words to express our feelings, we often find there are others who have expressed it all through their music.  Their music becomes our music.

God ordained music by beginning the song Himself.  And when God looks at you, He is so happy He bursts into song!

Zephaniah 3:17 says,

“The Lord your God in your midst,

The Mighty One, will save;

He will rejoice over you with gladness,

He will quiet you with His love,

He will rejoice over you with singing.”

As Gloria Gaither observed, God began the song and then He gave each of His Singers a part of His Song.

When we all get Home and put our songs together, we will hear the grandest hallelujah chorus ever.

Stop for a moment.  Listen.  Hear God sing.  Hear the angels.  Hear the singers who went before you.  And then  join the chorus!  Feel the Joy!

“Serve the Lord with gladness;

Come before His presence with singing!”
Psalm 100:2

Here is the link to the song that says it beautifully.

https://youtu.be/dUC2Lc3Q4-w