Facing Changes

    We moved to a new home last fall, and we’re still settling in. The neighbors are kind and friendly but because this is a retirement community, we’re all close in age. That’s a definite change from our old neighborhood with its people of many ages. This house, though beautiful and spacious, does not have nearly as much storage room as our other house, the frustrating reason we’re still settling in. Nevertheless, we chose these changes.

     Many changes come whether we choose them or not. When that happens, we can cling to God’s promise in Romans 8:28, that he works all things together for good for those who love him. Implicit in that promise is the fact that change happens. We’d have no hope at all if we couldn’t trust God to have our best interests in mind.

    Yet, as we age, the changes we face can bring grief. Favorite landscapes are altered by the demands of new generations upon the land. Society challenges or discards the values upon which we’ve built our lives. Loved ones die. How can we come to our later years without feeling bewildered, frightened, or sad?

    When my father was almost 84, dealing with physical ailments that had trapped his vital intellect and spirit inside an increasingly helpless body, I drove him back to our hometown to see the changes happening there. We passed the place where my siblings and I had spent weeks each summer, picking strawberries. Dad had been a logger then.  After a day in the woods, he’d come home and work until dark to clear land, make a garden, improve our home and put up other buildings.

    Now, he was saddened to see that the open vistas had been replaced by a sprawling elementary school and an encroaching subdivision. Across town, near the home of old friends Minor and Myrtle Bond, a new high school replaced the trees and fields. Dad and Minor had worked together when they were young.

    As we slowed to look at the new school, we recognized the bent old man crossing to his mailbox in front of us. Dad rolled down his window. Minor greeted us in the delighted, enthusiastic manner I’d forgotten, but which in an instant, swept away the intervening years. The two old friends conversed. One couldn’t walk and his voice wasn’t much more than a whisper; the other couldn’t hear very well.

    “How have you been?” my dad asked.

    “Oh, can’t complain,” Minor answered. “We’re nearly to the end of our time, you know.”

     I heard the tears behind the smile, and I wanted to say, “No, no, it’s just the beginning!” I knew that even reaching the end of one’s years on earth is a change that God in his economy means for our good. What I didn’t know was how I would feel when I reached the age of more than eighty. Would I still grieve for things I’d lost?

    Now that I’m nearly there, I know that we do mourn those things. But I also live with the faith that someday, the changes will make sense.
    I want to remember what the apostle Peter said in 2 Peter 3:10-13 about the changes that will happen when Christ comes back. The very earth and all that is in it will be burned up and replaced with new heavens and a new earth where righteousness dwells. Those who belong to Christ will be there. We can look forward to his return with joy.

    Change then will bring no regret.

Created for Light

A friend reminded me of something today I needed to hear. We’ve reached the stage of life where more and more of the important people in our lives are going ahead of us into eternity. Many who are younger than we face serious health problems. It’s harder than it used to be to maintain an optimistic attitude. Grief seems to lurk behind every silver lining. But my friend said: We are created for light and joy, not for darkness.

We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t grieve, but gratitude for what we still have and for what lies ahead does a lot to dispel the cloud of pessimism the enemy would use to shut out our joy.

Hank’s mother found these words in a Dear Abby column years ago. The author wrote the lyrics for his wife of 60 years. The paper is yellowed and brittle, but his thoughts are ageless.

        When autumn days remind us that the summertime is gone
        And the shadows show the sun is on the wane,
        It seems so easy to forget that life continues on
        As we revel in our strolls down mem’ry lane.
        But then I stop to reason that living knows no season,
        And realize our numbered days are few.
        That’s why I don’t recall if summer skies were gray or blue
        But live each lovely autumn day with you.

                    Francis Stroup, Dekalb, Illinois
                    ©Universal Press Syndicate   

Princess Fairy

Marva, the Princess Fairy

My husband had only time to call my name before he fell back on the pillows and his heart stopped. Standing alone beside his hospital bed, I knew he’d already embarked upon his eternal life. Though stunned, I felt wrapped in a kind of peace that held sorrow at bay. I spent the rest of that night at my son’s house. As the hours of wakefulness passed, I lay there imagining what wonders Bob might be experiencing. I was more in awe than in grief…that would come later as the reality of my aloneness sank in.

My children were out of the nest. Not many of my friends or family had yet passed this way…how could they understand? The house was quiet except for our old Irish setter who missed Bob, too, and let me cry into her soft coat. But God had someone special in mind to help fill the empty place in my heart…a little brown sprite named Marva.

My son had been engaged to Marva’s mother for several months. They’d already planned their wedding for June. I’d been slow to recognize the budding romance, probably because of the differences in their cultures. When I realized they were serious, I invited mother and daughter to meet me for lunch so we could get better acquainted. They stepped out of their car. The two-and a half-year-old spied me across the parking lot and flew to meet me, a dozen tiny braids bobbing about her head. “Grandma!” she cried, and launched herself into my arms.

Grandma! I wasn’t her Grandma! But as those little arms went about my neck and she snuggled against me, suddenly the name seemed like the sweetest word on earth.

Rob and Lydia’s wedding went on as planned. Gratefully, I filled my days with making curtains for their house and helping wherever I could. When they left for their honeymoon, just a month after Bob’s death, Marva stayed with me and Sharon Dog. We baked cookies together, we washed dishes together, we drew and cut out paper dolls. I was taking a crash course in Grandma-hood, but Marva was a natural.

Marva knew that Halloween meant costumes and candy. “What are you going to be?” I asked her.

“A princess fairy,” she replied.

So her mother sewed her a gossamer gown of pink, with long puffed sleeves and layers and layers in the skirt. She wore a sparkly tiara, and fluttery, see-through wings. Her daddy made a star-tipped wand as a finishing touch. Marva loved the dress. She wore it to church; she wore it to town. She wore it out. But by that time, she’d made herself a place in my heart that she will never outgrow.


Little girl with dancing eyes,
You stole into my lonely heart.
You wrapped my heartstrings
round you, Princess Fairy,
As if you’d lived within it
from the start.