The Wedding Gift – 41 One Years Ago Today

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The Wedding Gift

By Phillip Hix Woody

I know they aren’t diamonds – these boots

But if you’ll give them a chance

I think they’ll make a fine pair of roots

for your feet.

You see, I thought it would be romantic

To walk in the woods with you

To get away from the frantic routine

and be alone.

I wanted your feet to be protected

And if I had suspected you’d be upset

I’d have bought you a diamond instead.

Maybe someday.

Someday we’ll hike to the end of a trail

where we’ll find hidden treasure.

And these boots will take us there.

 

When Phil gave me hiking boots as a wedding present, I must be honest and say that I was a bit disappointed. Yet, I know that I have enjoyed hiking with Phil in many places that I never would have dreamed of visiting. The interesting fact is that I remember being disappointed by the hiking boots, but I can’t think now of one gift I would rather have received. 

We hike together often with children and grandchildren. The above photo was taken this past Friday on the top of Clingman’s Dome in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It continues to be a favorite hiking place for us.

There is a lesson in this for me – 41 years later. I should receive gifts as tokens of the relationship I have with the giver. It really is NOT about the gift – it is about the one who gives. Phil gave me the hiking boots because he wanted us to hike together. His motive was to share together something he loved doing. What a meaningful expression of love – one that blesses me as I read his poem.

So, on this our anniversary, I will share a Scripture that I have prayed concerning Phil many times.

Philippians 1:3-8

3 I thank my God every time I remember you. 4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, 6 being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart and, whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me. 8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

I am so thankful for these 41 years!

May we have many more years of hiking together!

Tender, Thankful Hearts

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There are many people in our country and the world today that are suffering. The pain, fear,and loss they are facing leaves little room to be thankful.

Here I am, looking forward to the arrival of some of our children, grandchildren and friends tomorrow. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I enjoy the family gathering, the food, and the focus on being thankful.

Yet I know many are not blessed the way I am. Recently, friends from church lost their college aged son in a tragic accident. A school bus crashed this week causing the loss of five young children. What is there to be thankful for in these situations?

A dear young mother recently shared in our women’s Bible study group that she was dealing with reconciling the fact that –

God is good,

God is faithful,

Yet the pain of the loss of seemingly senseless death lingers.

We are studying Ezekiel, a challenging book heavy with judgement. Yet this young mother shared that she felt challenged by the following verse. Ezekiel 36:26 –

26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart.

“Do the situations around me cause me to harden my heart, or soften my heart?”

When my young friend said this  – I realized  – that is the challenge for me as well.

Will I allow situations around me, and personal suffering to harden my heart? Will I allow God to give me a new, tender heart that is able to see and feel His presence in the midst of suffering?

We have much to be thankful for, yet the suffering some face is very real.

The book Defiant Joy, the Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K.Chesterton by Kevin Belmonte recounts that during a period of utter despair, Chesterton “was filled with both an enormous sense of thankfulness, and an enormous need for someone or something to thank.” (p. 218) This insight caused Chesterton to embrace Christianity. He went on to become a critic and writer that greatly influenced the lives of C.S.Lewis among countless others. “The test of all happiness” he wrote, “is gratitude; and I felt grateful.” (p. 221) The defining quality of his life as described by his contemporaries was JOY. Thankfulness leads to joy.

Notice that it was “during a period of utter despair” that Chesterton came to the point of recognizing his need for God. He had a change of heart.

As we gather this Thanksgiving, let us remember to pray for those throughout the world who are suffering in loss and fear.

Pray that we would have tender, thankful hearts to experience God’s faithfulness and love in the midst of all we face.

 

 

No Fear

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Watch those boys!

I had to bite my tongue not to say those words. I have hiked on Wildcat Cliffs numerous times and thoroughly enjoyed each one. The panoramic views overlooking the sheer rock cliffs are breathtaking and beautiful.

This time I did not enjoy the hike at all. Why? Because fear had a hold on me.

Those sheer rock cliffs became dangerous instead of beautiful because all I could see was one of our grandchildren falling down those cliffs.

My fear robbed me of any enjoyment on that hike. Our grandchildren’s parents were doing a good job of monitoring their sons’ behavior, but fear has a way of blinding us to reason.

That fear was overwhelming. It consumed all my thoughts, made my blood pressure spike, and ruined what should have been a lovely family outing. (Well, everyone else had a great time, especially the grandchildren!)

God wants us to be free from fear. The antidote for fear is faith. When I trust God with my life and the lives of those I love, fear has NO hold on me. That does not insure that bad things won’t happen to me or those I love. It does give me peace that God is in control and that He will use every circumstance to further His purposes. I have seen this truth demonstrated many times in my life.

I John 4:16-18

16 We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.   17 And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect. So we will not be afraid on the day of judgment, but we can face him with confidence because we live like Jesus here in this world.   18 Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.

There are so many concerns in our nation and our world that could cause us to fear. Most of these are things that we have no personal control over. Living in fear of these situations, or possible situations will not help the outcome. The future of our nation will not improve because I fear it’s future.

Prayer will help. It focuses my heart and mind on the reality of God’s love for me, His perfect love that casts out fear.

Does this mean I will never feel fear when grandchildren are near a cliff?

No.

But, I will recognize the source of the fear and choose faith.

 

 

 

Pray

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people, for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  I Timothy 2:1-4

First of all pray.

Adah and leaves

I don’t know the results of the elections yet. I do know that whatever the results are –            I must pray.

Paul makes it very plain in his instructions to Timothy that I must pray as follows:

  • with petitions – requests for what I may want or need
  • prayers – expressions of my feelings and thoughts
  • intercessions – requests on others behalf, my family and friends, those suffering
  • thanksgiving – gratefulness for life and all my blessings

These four elements encompass all that we may face in the days ahead.

God is faithful and He calls us to pray. God does not need our prayers. We pray to focus our thoughts and hope on faith in God. We need to pray.

What a blessing it will be to show our children and grandchildren that we trust God with the results of this election! Pray together with these children expressing faith that God is faithful.

God has purposes far beyond what we imagine and sometimes those purposes involve success, disappointment, and even suffering.

God is faithful.

Pray.