ANSWERED PRAYERS

In his 1991 number 1 hit “Unanswered Prayers”, Garth Brooks sang “some of God’s greatest gifts are answered prayers”.  And while I agree with the statement and premise of the song, ANSWERED PRAYERS are great gifts from God as well.  Olivia Walker Reed was born this morning at 3:12 am EST at the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg.  She was 8 lbs and 13 oz, 21 inches long and Mother and Daughter are both doing fine at this time.

She arrived in a hurry; Katie had been having contractions throughout the night, but apparently early this morning woke Joshua when her water broke.  She was carried to the hospital by ambulance and Olivia was born in the ER.  They didn’t have time to get to Labor and Delivery and Joshua didn’t make it in time to be there when she was born.  But as he said the important thing is she is here and healthy and Katie is fine.

I don’t know how many people have been praying for this day to come, but I know it is a BIG number and I know how grateful and happy we are.  Now if we could just get our hands on her…..  But that day will come soon; for now, we are just thankful!

PANDEMICS AND CHANGES

I was thinking earlier today about the changes we’ve seen resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  We’ve had to learn new words and phrases like “new normal”, “social distancing”, “stay-at-home”, “safer at home” …  We’ve had to learn new ways to live and new habits like never leave home without your face-mask and gloves, stand on the “X” in the check-out line, have food delivered or pick it up and take it home.  It’s all about avoiding people instead of socializing and being close to people.  I’ve never seen anything like it in my lifetime, but throughout history there have been other horrible pandemics that the human race has somehow managed to survive.  Three in my lifetime are: 1) 1957 Asian flu which had a second round in 1958 that killed an estimated 1.1 million people worldwide; 2) 1981 HIV/AIDS Believed to have developed from a chimpanzee virus in West Africa in the 1920s the disease moved to Haiti in the 1960s then to New York and San Francisco in the 1970s.  Treatments have been developed to slow the progress but no cure, resulting in 35 million deaths worldwide.  3) 2003 SARS Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome believed to have started in bats and spread to cats and dogs then to humans in China and 26 other countries resulting in 774 deaths.  (Source: history.com).  These and earlier pandemics have altered life in some ways.  Bubonic plague, smallpox, several outbreaks of influenza have brought significant changes in the medical world for vaccines and treatments of the diseases.  I’m sure this one will do the same.

But I wonder about the long-term social aspects of the disease when the worst is over.  Will we still be “social-distancing”, wearing face-masks and gloves?  Since we’ve been in St. Pete now for more than a week Robin and I have not touched or hugged our daughter and son-in-law; we knew when we came that we would have to stop at gas stations, rest areas, restaurants and even though we were masked and gloved anytime we were out of the car we all agreed that the safest thing to do would be “quarantine” for two weeks after arriving here.  For the safety of our family and our new granddaughter it was the right thing to do.  We have visited on their patio always staying a safe distance away.  But it’s hard; I want to hug my children and grandchildren and my Mama and Daddy.

I hope a vaccine can be developed sooner rather than later; some things are just too precious to give up completely forever.

MOTHERS’ DAY 2020

This is a different Mothers’ Day as we anxiously wait for our daughter to deliver her second child. “She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her. Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Giver her the reward she has earned, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

This is the conclusion of “The Wife of Noble Character” in Proverbs 31; and while all of the verses are important these seem to be more reflective of a mother being a mother. In our society some mothers do not live up to the high standard of being a mother (dads either, but that’s a different day). It’s such a blessing to see and hear our daughters talk to their mother about “mother things”; all I can do is listen. It is a subject of which I know nothing except through observation. I’ve observed two of my great-grandmothers, my grandmothers, my mother, my wife, my daughters and my mother-in-law, (who treated me as a son) as they set a high bar for motherhood. It’s the only kind of mother I know anything about; and I guess it would be easy to take that blessing for granted. But I hope I NEVER do that! I could even extend that to aunts and cousins in my family. But I’ve heard stories about other kinds of mothers; mothers who can’t live up to the honor of being called “Mother”.

I’m blessed to still have my mother with us; Robin misses hers terribly and would like nothing better than to share the excitement with her of a new great-granddaughter, or as she would call her, “my littlest angel”. Although I won’t get to see Mama this weekend, you can bet I will talk to her. I want to give her (and all the other mothers in my family), “the reward she has earned” and “praise her at the city gate”. HAPPY MOTHERS DAY ladies! I love all of you so much!!

OVER THE RAINBOW (PART 2)

In a post on April 15 I closed with the following line: “’Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue’; I can’t wait”.  Yesterday was our moving day and as you can see below, skies are really blue.  This photo was taken from the patio of our home away from home for a little while.  We haven’t seen Katie and Joshua yet; self-imposed quarantine after our drive down yesterday.  We have discussed a “patio party” where we can visit from a distance and maybe share a meal together.  And we are still daring to dream our dream as we move closer and closer to baby girl’s arrival.  All is well at this time and we are confident it will remain that way.

The move did take its toll, however.  We were determined to drive the distance in a day and not spend the night anywhere.  After we arrived around 9:00 we still had to unload coolers of food and some limited amount of clothes and toiletries.  It was a long and tiring day and Robin has been in bed pretty much all day today.  But she will bounce back after some rest.  But nothing will cure your ailments like the fruition of a three-year dream that is now on the horizon.

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April 21, 1986

My math is a little rusty, but I believe that was 34 years ago; seems like just a few weeks at times. Today is our baby girl’s 34th birthday and that is hard to believe. It is such a great feeling and a real blessing to see your grown children living successful lives. Things were not always easy for Rachel; she worked hard in school and had several obstacles to overcome. She (much like her father) learned many lessons the hard way. I guess that is one reason it is so gratifying to see your adult children living successful and happy lives.

We watch them struggle and overcome those hardships and learn valuable lessons. And we hurt with them and for them when they are going through those experiences. Then we celebrate with them; just like we will do later today. But man! Thirty four years has gone by quickly!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY RACHEL!! I love you so much!

OVER THE RAINBOW

“Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true”

So says the first verse of Judy Garland’s version of “Over the Rainbow”. In the midst of the Covid 19 virus epidemic, I dream of a land where the “skies are blue” and we return to some kind of normal. I doubt that life will ever be the same as it was before this virus claimed the lives of 32,000 people (by the time you read this it will surely be more). So once again, we will be adjusting to a “new normal”. I’ve been hearing that phrase used frequently and I guess that will be the case once we are past the immediate danger phase.

But the song also has a new meaning for our family. We are approximately a month away from welcoming our new rainbow baby girl to the world. “The dreams that you dare to dream really do come true.” We’ve dreamed this dream for over three years and we are so excited, anxious… a mixed bag of emotions. But excited is the one that first comes to mind. Robin and I are preparing to make the trip to St. Pete, trying to get some things done that we’ve neglected for too long, and trying to plan for an extended trip (Will we need this? Should we take that?)

“Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue”; I can’t wait.

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THE LOVE OF GOD

Before we were confined to our homes Robin and I had the great privilege of seeing the Gaither Vocal Band with a couple of our friends. It was a great concert and all of us enjoyed it very much. One of the songs they performed was their arrangement of the old hymn “The Love of God”. I had not thought about the song in a while and their arrangement really stayed on my mind for several weeks (it’s actually still there). I was telling Daddy about the song one day and he said you know where that song originated don’t you? I didn’t, so he showed me in a song book. There was a footnote below the song regarding the origin of the third verse; then I wanted to know more about the history of the song. So… from the website nickel-notes.blogspot.com here is a condensed history of the song.

Frederick M. Lehman was a California businessman that lost everything through business reverses. He was forced to spend his working hours in manual labor, working in a Pasadena packing house packing oranges and lemons into wooden crates. Not an ideal environment for writing love songs, but this was the environment the Lord chose to use.
Mr. Lehman was a Christian who rejoiced in his salvation. He was so moved by a Sunday evening sermon on the love of God that he could hardly sleep. The next morning, the thrill of the previous evening had not left him. As he drove to the packing house, the makings of a song began to come together in his head, with God’s love as the theme.
The next day after work he hurried to his old upright piano and began arranging the words and composing a melody to fit them. He soon had finished two stanzas and the melody to go along with them, but now what was he to do? In those days, a song had to have at least three stanzas to be considered complete. He tried and tried to come up with a third stanza, but to no avail. The words just would not fall into place.
It was then that he remembered a poem someone had given him some time before. Hunting around, he found the poem printed on a card, which he had used as a bookmark. As Mr. Lehman read the words, his heart was thrilled by the adequate picture of God’s love they pictured. He then noticed this writing on the bottom of the card:

“These words were found written on a cell wall in a prison some 200 years ago. It is not known why the prisoner was incarcerated; neither is it known if the words were original or if he had heard them somewhere and had decided to put them in a place where he could be reminded of the greatness of God’s love – whatever the circumstances, he wrote them on the wall of his prison cell. In due time, he died and the men who had the job of repainting his cell were impressed by the words. Before their paint brushes had obliterated them, one of the men jotted them down and thus they were preserved.”

Lehman went to the piano and began to voice the words with the melody he had just written. They were a perfect fit. It was a miracle! The song was published – and remains today – with these words as the last stanza.

In later years, the origin of these words became known to Alfred B. Smith, which reveals an even greater miracle in the writing of this song. The original third stanza was written in Hebrew around the year 1000 by Meir Ben Issac Nehoria, a Jewish Rabbi. God, knowing that Lehman was going to write a song, also realized that Lehman would have trouble writing a third stanza and so He chose this Rabbi, who though not accepting Christ as the Messiah did possess the skills to graphically paint a picture of God’s love in words. He would preserve these words and then hundreds of years later He would have them translated by this prisoner into a language that did not as yet exist, namely English.

And to think, He did it in the exact meter to fit Lehman’s melody!

THE LOVE OF GOD

1 The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell.
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin.

Chorus O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

2 When hoary time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall;
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call;
God’s love, so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song.

3 Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made;
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

Having just celebrated Easter, these words really do drive home the magnitude of God’s love for His creation and mankind.

IN SEARCH OF THE EVER-ELUSIVE MIDDLE GROUND

Robin and I will soon celebrate 46 years of marriage; we believe we know each other very well and can often finish each other’s thoughts and sentences.  Today was a beautiful day here and we spent most of it outside working on outdoor projects because we expect rain again soon.  Robin came in a little sooner than I to rest.  When I hit the door I went straight to the laundry room peeling off sweaty clothes as I walked.  When I returned to the sun-room Robin was resting as shown in this photo

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A shirt, jacket and heated blanket.  We have spent most if not all of our 46 years of marriage searching for the elusive middle-ground for our thermostat.  And I have finally concluded today, that there is no such thing.  After I showered, on my way back downstairs, I glanced at our thermostat- 75 degrees.  I’m not hot at this time, but my real comfort zone would be 68-70.  Please understand I am not berating my wife because she is cold-natured.  She doesn’t like it either.

It is just a trivial example of life in general.  There are some things that we just can’t find that “middle-ground”.  We can’t compromise far enough to meet the others’ opinion even though we may try.  Romans 12: 18 says “If it is possible as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  To accomplish this task, we must be willing to meet the other party in the middle, or even go beyond what we feel is the middle.  But we must never compromise on what we feel is true and just.

I hope we never compromise on what we celebrate at Easter.  We will definitely compromise on how we celebrate this Easter Sunday, but not on the reason for the celebration.  I hope you all stay safe and have a wonderful Easter celebration of some kind!

DOWN ON THE BAYOU

Since we knew we were coming to St. Pete Robin and I decided to wait until we got here to officially celebrate Carter’s birthday, even if it was a day late. So yesterday, 2-5-20, we went to Clam Bayou armed with three white roses for his third birthday. As we walked out the boardwalk to the water, we heard the familiar rustle of palm fronds in the breeze and observed the beautiful plants on either side of the boardwalk.


We even had a little friend jump on the boardwalk behind us as we walked by. We stood for several minutes staring at the murky water below reflecting on both Carter’s birthday, and the last time we had seen him at this very spot.

As I gazed out over the water, I noticed the same boat lying on its side; I know it has been there for the three years I’ve been visiting the Bayou, but it’s still there.

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It was late in the afternoon and the sun was beginning to sink into the Tampa Bay waters.  I also noticed the cloud formations reflecting the evening sun rays.IMG_1547

After we had tossed our three white roses into the water, I wanted to see the view from the observation deck before we left; it was worth the brief walk up the ramps.

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It was a beautiful evening, celebrating the beautiful life of a beautiful little boy.

Phoenix

 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY NUMBER THREE

Today, February 4, 2020, we celebrate the third birthday of Carter Joshua Reed, who left us much too soon. Our hearts were filled with joy when Carter made his entrance into the world beyond the womb, even though he spent his first three weeks in the NICU. He was, like all babies are, a special gift and blessing from God and we celebrate with grateful hearts the impact he has had on each of our lives. Our family continues to live with a hole in our hearts just the size and shape of Carter; we wonder what he would be like now at three, what he would be doing, and what it would be like to play in the floor with him. We still want to kiss his chubby cheeks, rub his head, read a book with him and sing songs with him.

The pain of losing him cannot negate the joy we had with him while he was here and so today, we celebrate. We’re thankful for the time we spent with him and the lessons we have learned (discussed many times in these blog posts and Katie’s blog Dear Carter).

And now, we anxiously await the arrival of a new baby girl in May and to say we’re excited would be quite an understatement. This precious girl will in no way “take the place” of Carter; we will always have a “Carter-hole” in our hearts. But I think she will bring a breath of fresh air into our family and for that, I am so thankful!

Happy birthday, Little Buddy! Your Papa loves you very much and misses you every day!