Tag Archives: i will give you rest

The Blue Armchair and the Presence of God

The Blue Airmchair and the Presence of GodI could feel his presence as I entered each room. He had only been gone one year; past conversations and memories bopped around in my mind—random flashes of the past with no clear timeline. Dad making himself known in my heart and thoughts. His love was tangible. The house was pregnant with his solid faith and unconditional love. We missed him terribly, but we walked the legacy he set in place before us. With each step of remembrance, I felt his nod of approval, his pleasure.

It was the first time in his home since he had passed. I was so relieved his blue recliner chair was there, the leather worn in places where his hands used to push forward to fold out for a nap. The seat of it revealed the wear of a consistent presence like the dent in a blanket left by a warm dog after it gets up and stretches.

During some of our last visits, an external bladder pouch sat next to him on the floor, taking the role his cancer-ridden organ used to play. Sweet as he was, he used to ask if it would upset my children to see it. I was honestly glad they did. They remember the battle he fought so courageously and the toll it took. His robe would hang slightly open where the tube delivered its contents to the pouch on the floor. None of us minded. At the time, we were so grateful he was still with us.

I can’t look at that chair without seeing the red-white tufts of hair poking out over its high back or the freckled, hairy, lanky arms sitting on the armrests.  Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

“Come to Me, All Who Labor”

%22Come to Me, All Who Labor%22

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” –Jesus, ESV

Matthew 11:28-30 is one of the most frequently quoted Bible passages regarding labor versus rest. For me personally, it has a more literal significance. As a little girl in the Presbyterian church I grew up in, I would lay my head down on my father’s lap as the sermon began. As I drifted off to sleep, this verse was the last thing my blurry eyes focused on. It was painted on the front inside wall of the sanctuary. These beautiful words penetrated my mind and heart every Sunday, even as a young reader and child of immature faith taking rest more immediately than perhaps the passage intended.

The best part was when I figured out it was Jesus doing the talking. When it’s Jesus talking in the Bible, it’s a promise I can hang my hat on.

It seems to me that rest is more or less what Labor Day seeks to offer us in its recognition of the “social and economic achievements of American workers” by taking off a day for observance.

But, what does it mean to really labor in a biblical sense? What does God require of us? How do we then get to the rest part? Read the rest of this entry »


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cows, Cornfields, and a Father Who Cares for It All

Cows, Cornfields,This past weekend, I took my oldest son with me to visit my parents. It was a nice, long drive through New England and the middle states during leaf peeping season. The hand of God almost seemed to be painting treetops as we drove. My parents now live in farm country, where life somehow seems slower and cornfields abound—even the occasional buggy or two. And I really didn’t know how much my frantic, suburban heart needed cows and cornfields until I had been there a few hours and soaked it all in.

My father recently had surgery to remove his bladder. I went down there post-op to check on him but also to hear face-to-face the plan from here on out. Phone calls just didn’t cut it. I needed to look at him and see where life after surgery had taken him.

I was amazed. In addition to decorating the foliage with a beautiful array of color, God was apparently also strengthening a body that should be beaten down and exhausted after a sum total of five tumors over many years and, most recently, ten hours of surgery and four units of blood—but, overall, it wasn’t. I’m sure it was for the first few weeks after surgery, but it certainly wasn’t now.

While God was growing cornfields so tall with bonneted women bending over to eagerly check the harvest, He was also apparently breathing fresh peace through a cottage home: winds of reassurance, a cloak of safety.

While He was giving cows full milk to squeeze in industrious dairy farms all over His rolling fields, He was also delivering love, food, gifts, and messages to two of His children weathering a raging storm.

And this moment converged in my own life with crazy-busy slamming in regularly and not letting go. So, sitting in this peaceful countryside did much to soothe me and my son. I napped when they napped. I worshipped when they worshipped. And I slowed way down for a few days.

Blogs and book signings by the wayside.

My own “mom duties” minimal.

Just breathing in hay smells and watching the buggies clomp-clomp down a street that wasn’t too busy for them. How badly I yearned to be a buggy in those moments.

We even watched an old movie snuggled under afghans after warm chicken pot pie.

This isn’t where I grew up. Where I was raised used to have tall cornfields. I could get lost in them for hours. I still dream about them from time to time. But developments popped up everywhere, the high school grew enormous, and streets became busy. My parents found that quiet space again when they retired, and it’s a place to truly feel restoration and refreshment.

I thought I was going just to see how things were going, but God also delighted me with rest.

The noise around me stopped.

I could see where this was the best place for my father to convalesce. How could you not heal in a place where people seem to have enough time and quiet to feel God’s breath on their faces as He exhaled?

When I asked my son what his favorite part was, it wasn’t the Chinese food buffet we went to (although that ranked up there) but rather the amazing worship choir/band/orchestra at their church—and relaxing. It said a lot to me about what a family in our season of life back home in Massachusetts was like. We had been spinning like tops, trying to find a good stopping place, but we hadn’t found it yet.

Until this trip.

I found it difficult to part with the calm I felt in their part of the country. I found myself longing for another escape there very soon—with a different child this time, to be fair.

But I also realized that God provides in ways that are sometimes not thought of or expected by us.

–The visiting nurse arriving to discuss my father’s body functions, in her own way, was Jesus tangibly holding his hand.

–The woman at church who wrote so many sentiments and cards was Christ’s disciple washing my father’s feet.

–The beaming smiles of the friends in the pew behind them were life-giving gifts from a Father Who deeply loves us.

For seven weeks, I had been sitting in my home, half a day’s drive away, crying out to God (joining the voices of many others) for my father’s provision, and this weekend, I got to meet some of them. I was able to thank them. I was able to touch into what God had been doing while I lived away. And I was able to feel the Father’s warm embrace that “He’s got this. He always has. He takes care of His children.”

I returned to talk at a speaking engagement the very next day, but I was rested, calm, at peace, and knowing my Father in heaven better. He knew I came to check on my dad, but isn’t it just like God to take care of us at the same time?

Life picked up where it left off, except I had auburn-golden-crimson colors in my mind. The kindness of strangers. God’s kiss on my face in the smile of a coffee shop manager. A peace that passes all understanding swirling through my parents’ home.

That peace certainly didn’t belong there on its own because cancer doesn’t speak peace.

But Jesus does. He put it there.

Philippians 4:7, Apostle Paul speaking, ESV
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus speaking, ESV
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

This blog has been shared at Mom 2 Mom Monday Link-Up, Tell It To Me Tuesdays, Pick Your Pin TuesdaysWomen With Intention WednesdaysCoffee & Conversationand A Little R & R.

More anecdotal stories about an everyday relationship with God can be found in Not Just on Sundays: Seeking God’s Purpose in Each New Day (includes Book Club Discussion Questions).


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: