Tag Archives: Children

Oblivious

Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.” (Psalm 46:10, WEB) 

I can be oblivious at times. As Beth will attest, it’s usually when I’ve got my thoughts deeply imbedded in a particularly difficult conundrum trying to unravel the pieces of a complex problem to create an elegant and simple solution. At other times I’m just tired from resolving the aforementioned puzzle and my brain goes into the oft ridiculed “nothing” box which every male keeps handy for escape and relaxation. But, there are many areas of life where I endeavor to be very observant. Sometimes for safety reasons and other times to insure I’m behaving appropriately for the sake of those around me.

When I was growing up my parents instilled in me certain cultural expectations and behaviors for the sake of politeness and common sense. One of those areas was driving habits. Always look out for the other driver. Don’t do anything which can distract you from the road. Always pay attention to your surroundings just in case you need an unexpected detour to escape an accident or obstruction.

Driving back from the beach one day Beth and I were enjoying some music as we cruised down the highway. Traffic was minimal but there were a few other autos peppered along he highway. We slowly passed some and others passed us. Then a big car went flying past us in the left lane. Being passed was not unusual for us. However, when I looked over at the driver he was reading. He wasn’t glancing at highway signs but held a book in his hand, in front of the steering wheel, and was reading and turning pages as he evidently exceeded the speed limit in a casual fashion.

Aghast at the apparent lack of concern for other vehicles or his personal safety it reminded me of other “modern” annoyances. I’ll admit I’ve done some stupid things and been oblivious to others around me. Still, I try to be courteous and not endanger my fellow human beings. I’m not old fashioned when it comes to technology and courtesy.

How many times have you stood in line when someone answered their cell phone? There’s normally nothing wrong with that. We carry cell phones to be available everywhere (another topic I’ll leave for another post). However, if you have to shout into the phone so loud that others stare at you then something is amiss. If your phone is that poor get a new phone. I’m convinced the person you’re talking to can hear your booming voice without the aid of the telecommunications network. Really people. Show some consideration and concern for those around you.

Back on the driving kick and cell phones, driving, and traffic lights. Is your life so hectic and important that you must text or call someone every time your car comes to a stop. And, what makes you think that suddenly driving below the speed limit on a busy road makes it safe to text or call someone? Where did common sense go?

It just seems to me people have become so self absorbed that there’s a perpetual lack of attention to anyone and anything around them. You’re so important that holding hands and spanning an entire walkway in a busy mall is OK even if other shoppers are piling up behind your show of family unity. Who cares if the waiter can’t hear your order because the person a couple tables away is shouting in their phone?

People are taking a back seat to what “I” want or the prevalent persistent attention seeking electronic devices so ubiquitously beeping and clanging not to be ignored. We’ve become too worried that we might miss something happening and thus be a social outcast because we failed to read, laugh at, and comment on some bane, self indulgent post on social media. We cannot travel 60 seconds without a conversation which is best left to our full attention.

I’m reminded of the Psalmist’s admonition to pay attention. Be still, and know that I am God the Lord proclaims. We can’t be in tune with our savior and creator if we are always focusing on the creation and the things we’ve created. When flushed with a need to tweet, text, post or otherwise interact via an impersonal piece of electronics; perhaps it’s time to pause, quiet our thoughts, still our heart, and realize God is the one in control. When we lift our eyes to focus on the God of the universe it keep us from becoming oblivious to those around us, the very ones He created just as he created us. He’ll keep our vision focused and not oblivious.

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I’m Content

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6 WEB)

No matter what people may think, I’m content with my life, my family, my work and my faith; so, stop telling me I need something more. I was thinking about this while lying awake in bed one morning. When I look at things in my life and consider what I’ve done, where I’ve been and what I’ve acquired (physical stuff, experiences, etc.), I’m content. Unfortunately, sometimes, when my frustration over things around me percolates to the top of my patience, I might present a temporary persona that doesn’t portray a contented soul. But that’s another subject.

One of the first things I thought about was my wonderful wife quietly asleep beside me. It’s the precise planning of God that brought us together at the right place and time to embark on an amazing busy, full and fantastic life. Two-thirds of our lives we’ve been together and I’m looking forward with anticipation to undertaking together the next 40 plus years of life and adventure God has planned. Like most married men I know; I often wonder how my love tolerated me all these years. But I’m content knowing God was gracious to me and gives her lots of patience.

We’ve lived through raising four children, watching them leave the nest and start a life of their own with their own families. I like my children’s spouses. I love them all and I believe they like me. Our children are doing well in a variety of jobs. We’ve got service managers, restaurant managers, teachers and soldiers carrying on the family line. I’m proud of them all. They’ve had their problems, we haven’t always seen eye to eye, but as family we work through things. Thanks to them I have a number of grandchildren that I love dearly. I think they love me as well. I know why God gives us grandchildren. It’s to insure we still have that delightful spark of innocence to encourage us in life. They have good and bad days, they’re little children and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. I’m content with my family.

I’ve spent the majority of my life serving and working with the same organization in various places around the globe. I’d like to say everything was rosy and delightful all these years but the truth is there were hard times along with good times. Still, I’m content with what God has been able to accomplish through my work around the globe. More than once I felt ill-equipped for the job. It was then I watched as God stepped in to show His grace and let me know that I can do all things through Him. I can’t say I never had doubts about what I was doing. They would raise their ugly heads now and then until I reset my vision on the one who gives me strength. I can say I never had doubts about God’s calling me to this life. I’m content in my work and ministry.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve turned to God and asked, “Why?” Sometimes I found the answer. Some questions remain unanswered. I’ve railed at God in my frustration and anger and praised and worshipped Him at all times. Yes, even when I was furious I still worshipped God. I didn’t understand what was happening at the time, some things I still don’t understand, but I trust in God in all things. I’m comforted understanding that I can come to God with praise, anger, questions and the small issues of daily life and He listens. He shows me grace, especially in my stupid times. He loves me always, even in my disobedient times. I’m content with my faith in God.

In all this I find myself wondering why I would consider not being content. I can stop and think and realize that this is a great life God has provided and like the verse above I have great gain. Sometimes people think I’m discontent because I’m frustrated with things or get angry over an encounter with massive stupidity. So I wonder if we’re not confusing contentment with emotionless living. Are they the same? I don’t think so. God gave us emotions to help us deal with life on this spinning rock. We can let them get out of hand but to dismiss them as ungodly just doesn’t ring true for me. There are some things, regardless of my godliness or contentment, which I suspect will always increase my blood pressure.

There are inconsistencies in the behavior and reliability of computers, an area I’ve worked with for over thirty years that make me want to test the aerodynamic characteristics of the device from any open window (which I have done). There are vehicle drivers who apparently didn’t attend driving school, forgot all they learned or had incompetent teachers. Some folks standing in line for ten minutes or more to pay for items wait until they reach the counter to fish through their fifty gallon purse looking for their credit card. Sometimes I just sigh and roll my eyes. Other times, for whatever reasons, I just get frustrated or angry.

Then there’s the modern church. As a faithful member of the congregation we’re never doing enough “for God.” We hear preaching about contentment and at the same time a message of “do more” which creates discontent because we’re not doing enough, in the eyes of the local church, to justify our claiming to be faithful believers. Rubbish! I’m concentrating on my walk in this world as a faithful follower of Christ. Just walking faithful with God through normal tivities of life is doing something “for God.” Where that intersects with a church ministry, such as being a full time missionary, I’m glad to go as God leads. I don’t doubt some future heavenly residents might need a little fire under their backside to get them moving but who lights the fire, God or man? Without getting into a pet peeve let me say I’m content with the ministries where God has place me and I’m not looking for more. If He gives more I’ll undertake it. Otherwise I’ll be content with the here and now.

That’s probably where contentment lies. It lies in knowing you are where God wants you to be. It’s understanding the abilities God has given for the particular task and being content that God knows what He’s doing. Does it remove all emotion so we can be like good southerners and just say, “Bless their heart” when they do something ridiculous. At times it might. At other times life boils to the top and we are reminded we are humans, designed with emotions, by a God with emotions, to live in an emotional world. I’m content to live here, with all my foibles, until He takes me to that perfect mansion. Are you content?

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Giggles, Grins and Grands

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. (Proverbs 17:6 NIV)

We lived many years overseas serving the Lord wherever He placed us. No regrets but plenty of praises for God’s provision. In the last few years away from our homeland we enjoyed the benefits of modern technology including video conferences with our grown children and our growing brood of grandchildren. They thought we lived in a box and were awakened as simply as starting a video game but that’s better than waiting for weeks on snail mail for updates and photos.

Then the call came from the Lord to move our ministry back into our homeland. It’s the same ministry, the same work, just from another location. The greatest thing about God leading clearly is the joy of serving Him. There are many benefits from His leading and this one included being closer to our grandchildren.

Part of the clan in one place for celebration.So, for the first time since God started blessing us with grandchildren we were able to host a Thanksgiving celebration in our home. Not everyone could come due to work, school, or other obligations, but a majority made the trip. It was great. There were giggles and grins throughout the day. There was plenty of food, snacks, and drink.

As many have already discovered it’s delightful to watch a couple two year old granddaughters discover each other and figure out how to share the few toys they can find at Opa and Oma’s house. Off to the sideline an adorable five month old grandson giggles and laughs at his sister and cousin’s antics. You just never know what to expect.

We weren’t disappointed with the floor show. It went amazingly well and even sharing favorite dolls didn’t escalate into a feud. Maybe we can get the folks at all the peace tables around the world to take a few lessons from two year olds. But that wasn’t even the best part.

The best part was when one of them decided Oma, and especially Opa (me) needed a hug or kiss or that their lap was the perfect vantage point for watching something. There’s nothing like it. It doesn’t last long before they’re off to another imagined adventure but that’s long enough. These gestures of love toward grandparents can come unexpectedly anywhere in the house, any time of day. Bring it on.

I always wondered what it would be like to get older and have grandchildren. Now I know. It’s great. I also know why God gives little ones to us when we’re young. A two year old has much more stamina that I do these days. But the exhaustion at the end of the day is worth the love you receive from these little additions to the family.

I’m looking forward to future invasions of our home or invading their homes. It’s encouraging to watch our children raise their children and be able to see that God did a great job with them. We’re proud of our children and grandchildren. It’ll be exciting to see how God works in our grandchildren’s lives in the years to come. I can’t wait for another hug or kiss just because they love their Opa. They have their tizzies and fits and get tired and cranky, just like Opa, but I still love them.

There’s nothing like walking along the road with my arm stretched down so little fingers can clasp a couple of my fingers and feel safe while they point out every new thing they see. I’m not sure who enjoys it more but I think I do. Teaching my grandchildren to skip rocks on a pond or stir up the fall leaves with their feet gives me a feeling things are going along just fine in God’s world.

I hope God is proud of me. I think He is. I mess up enough and still He cares for me. It’s astonishes me each and every day. I’m looking forward to the day I can put my arms around my Savior’s neck and let Him know how much I love Him.

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Pieces of Christmas

Today your Savior is born in the city of David. He is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:11 NET)

Once we moved overseas it was 25 years before we were again in the USA for Christmas. That was quite a while. During most of those years we had children at home to celebrate the incarnation, the fun, the songs, and the family time.  Over the years, the children have grown up, left home and established their own homes in the USA. Along with their new homes and families, our children are married and have their own traditions.

I love family traditions, especially for holidays. There are good traditions like candy and presents I think everyone enjoys. There are the “not so good” traditions such as one of the children being sick every holiday season. Christmas probably has more traditions than any other season. I love special decorations which bring back enjoyably memories. I love the smell of Christmas cookies baking. I love the smell and look of a “real” and perfectly decorated Christmas tree. I love to throw tinsel at the tree while the family tells me to stop.

Our first Christmas on furlough in the USA with our children married and grandchildren was an exercise in diplomacy, bartering, and great joy. Just about every Christmas I remember someone was sick. That year was no different. I don’t remember who was under the holiday weather but someone was. Maybe it was me. Nah.

Diplomacy was the first skill to be exercised. Now that Mom and Dad, those missionaries who lived overseas, were in town the routine of spending the holidays with the “other” in-laws was in jeopardy. Who would go where, when and with whom so no one was left out or hurt that the “norm” was being interrupted. This worked out just fine with a little shifting of our children’s holiday routines to squeeze us in.

2009_12_21_treecookies-004We then moved to bartering. God provided a small home for us to occupy during the holiday season. Since it was normally used by families with terminally ill children in local hospitals it was a bit lacking in holiday spirit or decoration. So, we started bartering. We borrowed a tree from our daughters in law along with some decorations. We borrowed more decorations and stuff from our son’s family and Beth even picked up a few new items. In the end, we had a very “family” oriented tree decorated with stuff from everyone we were related to in town.

 Beth baked cookies with our daughters and there were plenty of goodies to go around. There were too many and I was hard pressed to eat them all. We found presents for all the children, in-laws, grandchildren at the various shops around town. And they even put some presents from themselves to us under our tree. It looked very festive.

Christmas day the traveling began. Two of our children and one of our grandchildren came to our little borrowed house in Kentucky. We opened presents, ate cookies, had fun, had a nice meal and enjoyed family.

It was great to see most of our children for the holiday. There’s a sense of relief and calmness in revisiting traditions now and then. When we arrived in town nothing was in place. We had to piece things together from family, friends, and shops to attempt building a touch of tradition while living out of suitcases. I think it worked pretty good.

Along with family holidays I find I’ve developed traditions in my Christian walk. Traditions (some call them habits) can be found in my prayer life, my study life and even how I approach worship on Sundays. I think it’s our human nature that finds comfort in things we understand and things which hold good memories. We need to take time to build our traditions, to find those places of comfort which help us press forward in our walk with Christ. Jesus grew up surrounded by traditions which impacted his earthly life. The same is true for us. What are our traditions?

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Living Legacy

Grandchildren are like a crown to the elderly, and the glory of children is their parents. (Proverbs 17:6 NET)

I remember sitting with my best friend, Doug, on the front porch stoop in Ohio. We would con20131128-thanksgiving-153-2template such deep conversations as, “Hey Doug, what do you want to do?” “I don’t know Bob, what do you want to do?” “I don’t know Doug, what do you want to do?” This could go on for hours until we gave up and actually went and did something. Occasionally we would think about other things like the changing of the century. We wondered if we’d be alive at the dawn of the new century. I’d be ancient at forty-eight. That just sounded so, so,  . . . OLD!

One year I was in the USA for furlough. Some fine folks think of it as a vacation. Since we work daily on relationships, support raising, travel a lot (13,000 miles) and share the ministry often (preaching 49 times in 12 weeks) I can’t see how this would qualify as vacation. But, that is another story. Well into my fifties, well past the turn of the century, the old conversations seemed so . . . dated. I had made it. So did Doug, by the way. And not only did forty-eight not appear so old being a grandparent required a new view on life and aging.

In our home assignment we were thrilled to see our grandson again and meet our two granddaughters for the first time. What an absolute delight to cuddle, hug and spoil my grandchildren. Near the beginning of our US assignment we, Beth and I, spent time with my Mom. My brother recently retired to the area and my other brother came to visit from the west coast. It was the first time in about 20 years we were all in the same place at the same time. A little family reunion was in progress.

Into this gathering my daughter, her husband, and their daughter came to visit. Ellice sat next to her grandmother, holding her daughter while I stood behind them for a generational photo. Four generations! I know there are families with more generations in a single photo but for me it was something new and exciting. I thought living to the turn of the century was dubious and here I was with four generations. I loved it.

Here I was looking at an example of a living legacy. My mother, and father, passed along their beliefs and views of life to me. I learned, modified and developed my own version tempered by the era which influenced my thinking. I passed them along to my daughter, plus our three sons, who modified them with into their own version tempered by the era in which they lived. And now she was starting to pass them along to her daughter.

One generation after another. As we watched our children grow, build their own families and lives, we hoped they learned the good things and not the bad. They did things differently than we did. That’s to be expected. But, regardless of differences we hoped our relationship was like the Proverb.

We knew our grandchildren were our crown as we grew older. Just think of all the photos we could share with the unsuspecting passerby. We never tired of beaming with pride as we inundate others with their cute smiles and rattled on about their adventures.

On the other hand, we hoped our children could take pride in us as their parents. We made mistakes, no argument there. We watched and prayed that the good of the Lord worked through us to shape their lives. So far, so good.

Jesus tells us eternal life is all about who you know (John 17:6). I suspect the present life is knowing your grandchildren. Watching a living legacy grow this side of heaven is what the present life is about. Thanks God for allowing me to experience this living legacy in my life.

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Mission Mama and the Ten Little Cakes

What if you lived in a land with no cakes?

NO cakes you say???? IMPOSSIBLE!!!

This is the story of the Missionary Mama who lived in a land where there were no cakes.

There were no cakes like we have in America like she had when she was growing up.

There were no cakes like we have for our birthdays.

Most of the time the Missionary Mama and her missionary kiddies didn’t miss the birthday cakes because the land they lived in had lots of really, really good food. The only times they thought about birthday cakes were . . . well . . . at birthdays. Then the Missionary Mama and Papa did what they could to get happy birthday cakes from America for their missionary kiddies. Sometimes it wasn’t easy but they always found one.

As the years past the Missionary Mama learned how to make all kinds of wonderful things in the land where they were living and didn’t even always make birthday cakes for birthdays. But one day some people from America were going to visit the Missionary Mama and Papa and they said, “What can we bring from America in our Suitcase for you?” Well they thought and thought and said, “A birthday cake please?”

A BIRTHDAY CAKE THEY THOUGHT????? DON’T THEY HAVE BIRTHDAYS? OH NO! WE SHOULD BRING THEM A BIRTHDAY CAKE. SO, THEY PACKED THEIR CLOTHES . . . TWO BLUE SHIRTS AND TWO PINK SHIRTS AND TWO PURPLE SHIRTS AND TWO RED GREEN SHIRTS (ONE FOR THE MR AND ONE FOR THE MRS.) AND THEN THEY PACKED A BIRTHDAY CAKE. . . AND THOUGHT . . . THERE IS MORE ROOM SO WE CAN BRING TWO BIRTHDAY CAKES. AND THERE WAS STILL MORE ROOM AND THEY PUT IN TWO MORE AND THEN TWO MORE. THERE WERE TWO CHOCOLATE AND TWO YELLOW CAKES AND TWO PINK CAKES . . . YOU SEE THE MR. AND THE MRS. LIKED THINGS IN TWOS . . . AND THEY ENDED UP WITH 10 CAKES IN THEIR SUITCASES.

2008_06_teresaphotos_0003Can you imagine 10 little cakes all ready to go to a foreign land and take birthdays to the Missionary Mama. Well they filled up the suitcase so much the Mr. and Mrs. had to take out some clothes and the cakes were starting to get heavy so they got friends to bring their clothes and their friend’s daughter to help carry the cakes. Then they all got on a big airplane with their suitcases and their clothes and the 10 little cakes. Oh, I almost forgot, they also brought a rabbit to make the airport people look at him so they wouldn’t look at the 10 little cakes and say, “NO cakes in this land!!!!!”

When they came to the foreign land the Missionary Mama and Papa picked them up at the airport with a borrowed car and you know what? It wasn’t big enough for so many people and 10 little cakes and a rabbit!!!! There were people and suitcases and cakes and rabbits everywhere. Wowie. They had a great visit and went to all the nice places in the land and ate lots of really good food and the rabbit met lots of nice people and then Mr. and Mrs. and their friends and their friend’s daughter took their empty suitcases home and with the rabbit had plenty of room.

Then the Missionary Mama thought . . . 10 little cakes what will I do with 10 little cakes????? We don’t have 10 little cabinets and we don’t have 10 birthdays. I know, I’ll share the cakes with people who miss Happy Birthday cakes like we do. Or maybe, I’ll share them with people who have never had a Happy Birthday cake. This is going to be fun.

The first little cake was made and it was a yellow cake with chocolate frosting and the Missionary Mama and Papa and Annamarie ate it just to make sure they were OK to share with others. I mean they needed to know that it still tasted good, right?

The second cake was made for a family from Switzerland and Canada and they had five children so the confetti cake was the best.

The third little cake was chocolate with chocolate icing and it was for a Missionary Mama and Papa party with Americans so they could practice their English and tell funny stories in English. There were some American missionaries and Canadian missionaries who hadn’t had a birthday cake for a long time.

The fourth little cake was a yummy spice cake with cream cheese frosting and Missionary Mama made it for the team that meets to plan all the work. Those poor people are in long meetings all day and they need a treat sometimes. Some of them liked the cake, and some thought it was too sweet, and some thought it was too fat, and some thought it was just right. There was a big Russian man and a happy Swiss man and a quiet German lady, a really, really tall man (I think he ate two pieces) and a strong Serbian man who tells funny stories and likes cake too.

The fifth cake was pink I mean really very pink and the Missionary Mama made it for the baptism in the Danube River. I don’t know why she made the pink one but the people from Africa and the people from the Philippines and the people from Iran and the people from Austria all ate pink cupcakes and said yummy, yummy, yummy. Let’s go to the river and get Baptized.

The sixth little cake was pink too and the Missionary Mama gave it to a little missionary girl who likes muffins with cream that are pink (that is what they call cupcakes there!!!!!) for her birthday.

The seventh little cake was chocolate and the Missionary Mama made it for a Happy Birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas. Her little missionary son ate it for dinner and lunch and breakfast. He also shared it with our friends from Hungary, and Canada, and Cameroon. (But I don’t think he wanted to.)

The eighth little cake was Carrot and the Missionary Mama made it for a missionary kid Christmas party and it had cream cheese frosting, yuummmmm. But one little boy said” Yuck,” and Naomi said “we forgot to pray,” and then she and the Missionary Papa prayed and she said “I like the cream!!!!!!!” There were children from all around Europe at the party and they liked to sing Happy Birthday to Jesus and then eat the cake.

The ninth little cake was for a ladies’ prayer group and it was lemon and very yellow and pretty. I hope it made the ladies strong so they could really pray for the families and the children.

The tenth little cake doesn’t have a place to go yet. What shall we do????? Maybe you can think of a place to take the yellow cake with chocolate frosting on it??????? It sounds Yummy but the Missionary Mama is all out of places to take it right now. So please help me to think, and think, and think of the best place for the little cake because it is sad to be all alone in the cabinet and needs a nice party to go to.

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Hands

Hear the voice of my petitions, when I cry to you,when I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. (Psalms 28:2 WEB)

My son in law, when describing me to someone else, once said, “His gift of love is sending pictures in e-mail.” I laughed and thought of the many photos I’ve inserted in various e-mails describing serious, serene, and humorous aspects of my life and family. With family and friends living across the ocean it’s my way of reaching out. I’m not trying to impress them with the spectacular sights or places I’ve visited. Instead I’m reaching out for kindred spirits to share in my joy. I need companionship, not only in my home, with my wife, but with others.

When someone reads my carefully crafted story and enjoys the selected photos then writes back I’m thrilled. It’s not as quick wittedly enriching as sitting around the fire swapping tales but it lifts my heart and brightens my day. I’ve taken pictures of so many things my computer groans each time I download another collection from the camera.

A Charles Bridge musician. Apparently he is multitalentedThere are pictures of castles, countryside, mountains, a plethora of people from around the globe, family events, holidays, work projects and even pictures of pictures. While I sat at a bus stop, in the cold winter breeze, I looked up and was startled. One aspect of life was not part of my pictorial collection. Where were the hands and feet of the world around me? How could I miss them?

Look at your hands. Look carefully and see what they tell you about your life. As I sat, shivering slightly in the breeze, I saw an old man’s hands poking out of this jacket sleeve. They were knotty and twisted with age. His knuckles bulged from years of work and his fingers were restricted with years of change and probably arthritis.  I wondered, “What life did this man lead? What sort of work would wreck such a change to what I imagine were once youthful, smooth, dexterous fingers?”

I looked down and surveyed my hands. The smoothness which once graced the back of my hands looked like a satellite image of the alps. Canyons, valleys, and plains all worked together forming a ridge from the outside of the hand curving upward toward the index finger. The once slender fingers, which learned to play the piano at age five followed by the guitar and a number of other instruments of music, were fuller. The expansions of my wedding ring, thanks to a good jeweler, bore evidence of my expanded digits.

The tips of my left hand sported calluses from years of playing stringed instruments. A scar here and there bore evidence of accidents earlier in life. I remember slicing my hand working in the kitchen of a youth camp in Colorado. I thought it was a major accident but it wasn’t. The next day I was back washing pots and pans.

In each line, each scar, each callus, the depression from years of wearing a wedding band, the jagged edges from biting my nails, stood evidence of my life. I’m amazed when I shake someone’s hand. In that few seconds of contact I know something about a person and their life. Soft hands, hard hands, wrinkled hands, smooth hands, small, large, all tell a story of life. Faces are one thing to observe but I find myself looking at hands when I greet someone. Look at your hands. What do they tell you about your life?

I remember many hands I’ve touched or watched over the years. At a festival I watched the red rough hands of a glass blower handle the hot fluid glass with short iron instruments. They displayed the years of hard work close to a roaring fire. Still, there was the precise ability to finely craft each glob of glass into a work of art.

A little girl, all in pink, was playing with her doll on the train. Stubby, smooth, tiny hands deftly arranged the dolls hair. These same hands worked the buttons on her jacket and in excitement pointed out the window, with the requisite full body motion, at some fascinating view passing by the window.

My wife has lovely hands. They’re not quite as smooth and nimble as they were when we married but they are still beautiful and tell a story. Her soft touch on my ear or running her fingers through my hair can put me into a dreamy state of bliss. These are hands which nurtured our children, comforted me in trials, applied pressure to help healing and arose in praise before God’s throne.

There is one pair of hands I look forward to seeing. Jesus was a carpenter most of his life. He had a good teacher in Joseph. He had a loving mother in Mary. I can just imagine how his hands will look. Will they be rough from the hard years working with wood? Will they be soft and comforting from the years of touching lives to heal and comfort? Will they be scared from the pain he suffered to free me from sin and death?

Like Thomas, I want to touch those hands. I’m not looking for resurrection proof but to understand his great love toward me. How many hands will I touch today? How many hands will you touch today? What will my hands do today which might carry the message of grace and love God has planted in my life? I think its time to give close attention to the work of my hands as they reflect the work of Jesus’ hands in a fallen world. God seeks clean hands and a clean heart. Where will I put my hands today?

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