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.

Friday, August 26, 2011

That We May Find Joy


We often seek joy, but in this world, with its trials and tribulations, true joy can be illusive.  I thought about Naomi and Ruth.  Their lives had been torn and disrupted.  Yet they trusted God and followed His biding.  God loved them both.  He didn't leave Naomi and Ruth alone in their grief. The Great God who promised to nurture and sustain the widow and the fatherless would bring forth new life. From Boaz and Ruth's union came fruitfulness forevermore.  

Fruitfulness forevermore; I remember pondering those words when my grandson came home from the hospital.  My youngest son and his wife had named him for both his uncles -- tiny Mark Andrew would carry on our two oldest son's names.

Still ill from a lengthy bout of bronchitis, pleurisy and a lingering cough, I was afraid to hold, or even touch him. But I sat beside him and observed his long slender hands, his tiny face. His eyes were screwed tightly shut, he had his Uncle Dow's smooth dark hair and those pointy ears we'd laughingly called "Spock ears."

This little boy would never know the first Dow Andrew, but he will know him one day in heaven. A prayer left my lips. "Lord, Jesus, Saviour, Lord, bless this little one. Draw his heart close to Yours that he might love and worship You forever."

Even as I prayed a longing resurrected in my soul -- I was reminded again of the great paradox of Scripture; life comes out of death. The idea of fruit bearing is the same for me as for Naomi, the same as it is for the grain which falls into the earth in order to bring forth great harvest. Our Lord illustrated this when He said: I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed.  But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (John 12:24-25 NIV).

The women said to Naomi, Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer.  May he become famous throughout Israel!  He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age.  For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth. (Ruth 4:14, 15)

God always keeps His promises -- When we trust the Master Gardener with the seeds of our lives, He gives us an abundant life filled with incredible fruitfulness and joy -- not just during this life here on earth, but the kind of fruitful joy which lasts for an eternity. 




Note to Joann and Mary - In the shuffle of getting caught up on past correspondence, your emails were deleted.  As I went to read your email--somehow I clicked on something which deleted them and I can't get them back!  Would you send your emails again?  I would so love to hear from you.  You have been such an encouragement to me.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Praise from the Pit


Just as the women blessed Naomi and praised God after Ruth gave birth to a son, so I have also been blessed by loving women friends.  Petey is one of them.  A deepening of our relationship came the year we shared a cabin  at the Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference following my son's death. After we settled in, we spent time praying for our families and those who would be attending the conference. Then we talked about what God was doing in our lives. 

Petey's words almost tripped over each other when she described what the Lord had been teaching her about the high praises of God. Sitting cross-legged on the floor, my back braced again the edge of the bed, I leaned my elbow on my knee and cupped my chin in my hand. 

My friend's excitement was palpable, as she drew a folded piece of paper from the pages of her Bible.  I listened as she read aloud what she'd written:  

Determined to praise the Lord in spite of being in the pit, I sat in the Sunday worship service obediently, but joylessly rasping out my praise to God. As I blew my nose and blended my quavering voice with the congregation, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the verse, "Let the high praises of God be in their mouth." (Psalm 149:6 KJV).

She looked up and smiled at me. "I've never understood what high praises are," she said.  "and if there are high praises, are there also low praises? What is the difference?" She turned the page over and continued reading. 

"What are high praises, Father? Your throne is fixed in the heavens. As I praise You from earth, doesn't my praise always rise the same distance to reach You? Why is some praise 'high praise'?

"And then I thought of Joseph (less his coat of many colors), who praised God from his pit. 'You are like Joseph,' God seemed to say to my spirit. 'You are alone in a pit of confusion and pain, unable to climb out of your sorrow. When you offer the sacrifice of praise from the deep pit place it must rise higher to reach My throne. It becomes high praise-most precious in My sight.'"

Struck by the truths she had gleaned, I leaned forward. "I've done that," I whispered, "I mean praised Him from the pit. Except it wasn't me. " 

I remembered the last two hours of my son Dow's life.  His girlfriend Jane and I had been at his side, doing what we could to ease his pain and agitation. We assured him of our love and our hands were gentle as we cared for his needs. When he took his final breath Jane and I bowed our heads and wept. The first words that poured out of my mouth were from the Holy Spirit. "Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus. Bless Your Holy Name."

I had barely finished my story when Petey was beside me.  Her hands touched my hair, my forehead. The prayer and blessing she spoke wrapped around my aching heart. "Lord, bring healing and peace to Eva's mind, heart and spirit, even her whole body. Grant her Your Blessing from this time forth and even forevermore." Then she hugged me. 

As my Friend held me in her arms, I realized the words of thanksgiving I had prayed to Jesus the morning my son died had been a sacrifice of praise.  The words of thanksgiving which flowed from my lips the day Dow flew away to heaven, were the kind of praises the Psalmist David wrote when he penned the words, Let the high praises of God be in their mouth..." 

Some of you have experienced terrible pain and the unspeakable darkness of the pit.  You may be languishing in the pit right now.  To you, dear ones, I speak God's blessings, sending healing and peace to your aching broken heart, in the name of our Lord.