Monday, October 13, 2014

The Little Girl Who Got Back Up


This morning as I prepared to teach my Writing Your Life Story class, I found a story from my childhood I had written years ago.   It would be perfect to use for my class, I thought.  

But as I read I was caught back through the years.--back to when I was just a girl.  As I watched through my child's eyes I was deeply touched.  The truth the little girl learned that day was exactly what I needed to pull me up out of the pit of depression and fear where I had been wallowing.

I thought perhaps this story might touch your heart, too:

I’ll never forget the winter I was nine; the year Daddy bought our John Deere tractor. I remember the excitement I felt as Mother, Daddy, Dale, Lawrence and I crowded around the kitchen table, the John Deere catalog open in front of us. 

 “Picture yourself on this seat,” the caption commanded and I could see that was just what my brother, Lawrence, was doing.

That spring Daddy pulled out the red cigar box and counted out the bills. We could scarce believe it; soon that tall green John Deere would be ours. No longer would we need to hire the neighbor to plow our garden plot. Never again would Daddy have to scythe the hay by hand. That wonderful John Deere tractor meant all our needs would be met. We could hardly wait.

It was summer when John Deere came to live with us. With Lawrence at John’s wheel, our fields were plowed and disked and harrowed.  Dale and I even got into the act as we rode atop the harrow and disk as weights to help break up the clods.

One day when Dale and I were acting as weights an unexpected jounce jarred my grip and tossed me over the top and onto the ground in front of the discs.  

I have no memory of the fall, but I heard a horrible scream—it was my own voice. John Deere jerked to a stop. The disk rested on top of me and I saw my brother’s face as he turned.  He leaped from the tractor seat and lifted the disk from my back.

I sprang out, unhurt. “I’m all right,” I said.

My shirt was uncut. Lawrence brushed dirt from it and wiped my face with the corner of his. “I’ll take you to Mother.”

I shook my head. “I’m all right,” I insisted.

My legs shook. My mouth tasted funny. But I had to get back on the disk. I had too.

Lawrence understood. He smiled reassuringly as I climbed back on beside Dale.

As we rounded the corner of the field, we saw Mother hurrying toward us. We lifted our hands and waved.

Mother frowned.

We smiled.

We didn’t come in until the field was free of dirt clods.

As I relived those heart-stopping moments, the little girl I had been spoke truth to my heart.  I had forgotten the importance of getting back up to face my fears.  Fears which had plagued me since the death of my husband.  I had felt especially paralyzed when my computer crashed and I was faced with the loss of the original copy of the galley proofs of  A Stitch and A Prayer.

As I struggled with trying to master a new computer and the challenge of marketing my new book, I grew even more fearful and weary.  I had  lost sight of the courageous little girl I had once been.  That girl who had bravely climbed back up on the disk to finish the task she had been given to do.

I do not want my fears to keep me from what the Lord has called me to do.  Just like that clear-eyed girl I once knew, I need to get back up, hop back on, and find strength to finish the job.  

But I don't have to face my fears on my own.  A verse calls to me from my Bible. It is God’s message for me: I have not given you the spirit of fear but a spirit of power, love and of self-discipline. (My paraphrase of 2 Timothy 1:7).  

As I forge through my day, seeking to honor God in all that I do, I will cling to God's promise of living fearlessly through His power, with love and self-discipline.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Herman's Song


 
The cool of coming Fall hides in the shadows of the trees.  I look out the window through the rustling leaves--today I open my journal where I have recorded grace notes our faithful God has so generously scattered throughout the month of August to bless my heart.  Many came from His creation.
  •  The evening I saw dragon flies dancing high above the road at twilight.  As I watched their glory dance it became a grace note, a song of God’s glory.
  • The sweet twitter of a solitary bird hidden in the bushes announcing the arrival of autumn and a multitude of red winged blackbirds soon to gather in the cottonwood  trees. 
  • Just last night I heard the call of geese flying low over our house. They turned in the direction of the beaver ponds deep in the wood and I suspected they already knew it to be a safe place to settle for the night.
Thinking about God’s wonderful creation brought back the time a skunk came to live under the woodshed we had converted into a bedroom and office where I did my writing.  Bud and I named him Herman and he soon became my special friend. 

Herman grew so familiar with us, sometimes in the late evening when I fed our black and white cats on the back porch he joined them. Imagine my surprise when I stepped on Herman’s bushy tail.  I screamed, but he didn’t seem to mind. We didn’t see him often in the daytime, although sometimes I met Herman at the steps---him coming out, me going in.

One hot summer night I couldn’t sleep, so I made up an old army cot in the yard nearby.  Sometime in the night I felt a soft touch like a kiss on my hand.  I opened my eyes and there was Herman.  Once again he touched my hand with his nose. It was a gentleman’s kiss and I would remember it forever.

As time passed, troubles came to our family as they often do, and a dull darkness settled over my spirit.  When I went to bed after one particularly trying day, my mind wouldn’t slow down and sleep didn’t come for a long time.

I was awakened suddenly in the middle of the night.  Music?  A song—could it be a night bird? I had never heard anything like it before. The sound was so beautiful, as it drifted through the open window.  I pushed back the blankets; my bare feet touched the floor and I seemed to hear a scratching sound outside. I leaned out the window and gasped. There Herman stood, with his tiny paws braced against the wall, his white strips shining  in the darkness. His small nose pointed upward as he sang.

I listened in awe and amazement. Herman's song was for me---my Father God had sent the little skunk with his incredibly beautiful song, to dispel the sadness and confusion which had gathered in my mind.  God was sending me songs in the night and I knew I would never forget that holy moment.

As I write this, I remember these words I paraphrase now, from Psalm 4:6b-8. LORD , you have lifted up the light of Your countenance upon me. You have put gladness in my heart, . . . I will both lie down in peace, and sleep; For You alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety. 

Note:  In his Book How to Understand Animal Talk, Author Vincent Brown writes of the song of the skunk.  He describes it as a sound rarely heard by people, a “whistling in the night—something like the cooing of a dove, only higher…going up and down the scale, at last ending in a long-drawn and soft purr like a cat’s.”

Sunday, August 3, 2014

God's Grace Note



Earlier this week when I was cleaning out my old office I found a book I didn’t know I had. As I turned it in my hands I read these words on the back: “Based on the actual experience of Christian Reger during World War 11.”  The prisoners are inspired by a mysterious encounter with a light no darkness can extinguish..."

I opened the book and was caught by words of the main character.    “ . . . Grace sometimes comes to us in small things.” 

I couldn’t read any further; Somehow I knew those words were God’s grace note to me. Then a verse: “And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9 NKJV).

Today God played His love notes to me in new ways: A silly blue Jay perched on a branch in the birch tree tried to imitate a tree frog’s croak; a wild Queen Anne’s Lace displayed her tall majestic beauty as she caught the breeze and waved her fronds high above my head. The pungent smell of the cedar in the yard tickled my nose, and the small green cross  growing on the limb of a fir was caught in the lowering sun for a moment of glory.

These golden moments were God’s grace notes revealed to me in the small  things,  and I was both refreshed and blessed.   

Psalm 43:3-4 (Amplified): Oh send out Your light and Your truth; let them lead me, let them bring me to Your holy hill and to Your dwelling. Then will I go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy; yes, with the lyre will I praise You, O God, my God!

Friday, July 25, 2014

To Laugh with the Lord




Weariness tainted my week. The deconstruction going on across the street from my home has filled our days and ears from seven in the morning, until the early evening hours.   

In our little forested area, the unaccustomed noise rumbled from bulldozers, dump trucks and graters to bounce into our home and smash against the trunks of the fir trees. The continual beep, beep, beep jangled and stretched my nerves to the breaking point. There were even times when I felt the entire house tremble, as heavy equipment slammed hard against the monstrous asphalt and gravel mountain they had created.

Even though I tried to spend some quiet time with the Lord, I felt totally distracted.

“It isn’t that I don’t want to spend time with You,” I wailed to my heavenly Father. “It just that I can’t keep my mind focused the way my heart longs to. ” I reached for my devotional book and turned the pages. “Lord, I’m trying,” I whispered, as I found the day’s date: July 25th.

The very first sentence captured me: As you listen to birds calling to one another hear also my love-call to you. Startled, I read it again even as the trucks slammed and grunted, screaming their everlasting, “Beep, beep, beep.”  

As you listen to birds calling to one another, hear also my love-call to you?!

It was so unexpected.  I stopped (I could feel God smiling) and then I laughed out loud as recognition of God’s humor bubbled up inside me. “You have some mighty big birds, God,” I gasped, “and oh, how I love your sense of humor. What joy there is to laugh with You!"

“I praise You for Your creativity, Your joy and Your love for me. You are my strength--everything I need and I delight in You!”

Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.  ~Nehemiah 8:10


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Freedom



I hear my Shepherd calling out to me, “My daughter, bring me your feelings, even the ones you wish you didn’t have . . . “

I bow my head and pray, "Lord God, dear Savior whom you have sent, capture my fears and put them in a box. I need You to bury them at the foot of the cross. I cannot do this on my own."

And from His Word comes this message from Isaiah 12:2 (KJV): “. . . God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also has become my salvation.”

My heart responds, "With you, dear Lord, I can journey up over the mountain. You are before me, beside me and behind me. You have my back and I don’t need to fear. The sweetness of Your presence lingers near."

"You remind me again of the verse You gave to me (Isaiah 51:16). Your promise is true: I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of My hand . . . Lord, you are mine. You are awesome and great, planting the stars in the sky and proclaiming, My daughter, you are mine!”

And I am free.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Let There Be Light


This year on the Fourth of July I sat with my daughters Beth, Leigh and family, with our friends on the shore of the Willamette River.  I watched the fireworks exploding and dancing in the air over the river. It was a glorious display with shards of gold and red bursting out above the water. 

But for me it was more, so much more. The spiritual significance I saw painted truth in the sky, and spoke to the deep places in my heart. My God had something precious to share with me. I share it now with you.

From my Quiet Time Notebook:

. . . when my Lord’s love for me meets my love for Him, there are fireworks of heavenly ecstasy . . . a living foretaste of what awaits me in the life yet to come.

Luke 1:78-79 (NIV) . . . the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.

My heart's cry: “Your guidance, Your light. Lord, how I long for it.”

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. (Genesis 1:3)

Then I said, “Lord, by faith I claim that light . . . illumine the dark places in my soul as I walk with You. Teach me to trust You and You only.”

And Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:8b).

When darkness overcomes our hearts--cling to the brightness of His tender touch.  His light is pure, Holy and beautiful and He loves you.  Reach out--seek the living light of His Presence.  There is healing to be found in Jesus.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

One Step at a Time




Run . . . endure . . . agonize . . . persevere. The race track stretches before me and I have to run. It's a command--run with patience the race set before you. Except it isn't ahead of me. It's all around me and I feel like I've been running for a long, long time. And not just running. I've soared. I've stumbled. I've fallen. Most of all, I've plodded-one step at a time.

A memory--I'm nine years old and my brothers and I have a job picking strawberries at the neighbor's place a mile down the road and then another quarter or so after the crossroads. Having to walk to get there doesn't matter. At least not at first. The morning was cool and there's a certain excitement as we talked about the money we'd earn. The neighbor said he'd pay us twenty-five cents for every carrier we picked and we could hardly wait. Except the sun shone hot and the day stretched long. At 2 o'clock I stuffed a single dollar into my pocket and headed home.

The details of that walk are vivid. The boys took off ahead and I plodded along alone. A long stretch of road bordered by fields, meant sunshine all the way. A huge oak alongside the road offered a slight reprieve, and then more sunshine and a wooded area where sheep grazed. I fixed my eyes on the dense shade cast by the fir trees and trudged on.

More sunshine, but I kept going until the cool shade of the trees along our driveway welcomed me. My knees trembled by this time, and my face felt like it was on fire. I opened the door and stepped inside. My eye caught my reflection in the mirror in the front room. I couldn't tell where the red strawberry juice around my mouth ended and the sunburn on my cheeks began. But I had made it. I stepped into the kitchen. I was home.

But I'm not home yet.

Last winter my husband was hospitalized with a massive stroke. As I stood at his side I knew he was close to his heavenly home. And I--I was the one God had chosen to communicate His Word to the man I loved for so many years. I had been chosen to be with him on his last lap home; unable to speak or swallow, he still heard my voice. Every night, restless, weary yet unable to rest, he tossed and turned, fighting the sheets, the blankets, the bed rails; struggling against those things of earth that surrounded him.

 
That's when my Shepherd guided me to the 23rd Psalm. I leaned close and began to read aloud: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters-there was a sudden quietness. Bud's restlessness ceased. I continued reading; together we walked in the paths of righteousness, even into the valley of the shadows and then the banquet table in the wilderness.

I continued on: Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life. A deep sigh, his eyes closed. And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. My husband slept knowing the arms of His Lord were around him.

Several days later I saw my husband home to be with His Father in his forever home in Heaven. A part of me wanted to go there with him, but within my spirit was the deep conviction that my Shepherd had work yet for me to do: family to serve, people to love and books to write.

Sometimes I run toward the goal.  Some days, I find myself plodding along, one step at a time. But I'm not alone.  My Lord is there with me.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Broken Wings




Lord, there's an angel in the clouds,
And he has a broken wing,
I'm glad You sent him there,
He reminds me how to sing.

  ~Eva J. Gibson, (Copyright ©2013)

Praise be to the Lord, for He has heard my cry for mercy,
The Lord is my strength and my shield,
my heart trusts in Him and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song. 
(Psalm 28:6, 7 NIV)



Saturday, November 17, 2012

Heaven Bound


These are the words I read to my beloved husband, just before he flew away to heaven.  It is a paraphrase from the Song of Solomon.  Here I sense the beauty of God's immense Love for us, I feel the Lord's great joy as He leaps and runs to meet Bud, to hug him and to lead him into heaven. 

Our Lord comes
Look! here He comes, 
leaping across the mountains, bounding over the hills.
Our Lord speaks to us.
He is like a gazelle or a young stag!
Look! He stands behind our wall gazing through the windows,
Peering through the glass.
Our Lord speaks  to you:
"Arise my darling son, my precious boy and come with me
"See! Your winter is past; 
the rains are over and gone.
"Flowers appear on the earth; 
the seasons of singing has come.
"The cooing of doves is heard in the land whence I come.
"The fig trees forms its early fruit; 
the blossoming vines spread their fragrance.
"Arise, come, my darling son, my beautiful one.
"Come with me!" 
~ A Paraphrase by Eva J. Gibson 


To see Bud's Memory Book, please visit Peake Funeral Chapel.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Lesson of the Spider Plant


My spider plant has spent its summer outside on the picnic table beneath the trees. This morning when I sat down and opened my Bible, I noticed a cluster of tiny white flowers beginning to open.

I smiled and suddenly flew back in time to another spider plant someone had given me when I was much younger. 

Our house was full of children then and sometimes life was hard. The roof often leaked and so did the children.  How does one keep up with washing and then drying sheets draped behind the stove on rainy days?  In those days, a dryer was not an option.  And the children, the meals; so many needs, so little energy. Self-pity, resentment, worry, I struggled with them all.

But God wasn't silent in those years.  I believe that's why He sent the spider plant.  I remember the day I got it.  I put it on the window sill and stood back, enjoying the way it added a touch of grace to our battered living room.

Then it started to sicken. I tried watering it daily.  It didn't help.  I fertilized it.  The leaves grew even more yellow.  Then someone suggested it needed a new pot. 

I'll never forget what I saw when I shook the plant loose from the old pot. A rat's nest of tangled roots turned inward and left no room in the pot for anything but--you guessed it--roots. Those roots were literally wrapped around themselves, strangling each other, choking out life.

Kneeling on the living room floor covered with newspapers and holding that sick plant, I suddenly understood the lesson God was teaching me.  I saw myself as God saw me. Truth whispered in the depth of my spirit. "Eva, this is what happens to you when you let selfishness consume you. Your thoughts turn inward. Your energy turns to self-pity.  Bitterness and resentment begin to grow inside you, sapping you of energy and enthusiasm.  You no longer desire fruitfulness, holiness or godliness." 

I needed the object lesson of the root bound spider plant so long ago.  I still do. Why?  Because the roots of selfishness and self-pity--resentments and bitterness--are subtle and destructive.  They creep into our lives.  Instead of growing in godliness and fruitfulness, its easy to become self bound with nothing to give others.  But God shows us a better way.  How often over the years has He reminded me, "His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness" (1 Peter 1:3).

"Everything, Father?" I ask.

"Yes, my beloved Daughter.  I have given you everything you need as you walk through this life.  Hold onto my Hand and we will walk together."

I close my Bible, look out at the yard, dappled in its coat of sunshine and shadow.  I think of the lesson of the  spider plant, and I smile.