Sunday, December 25, 2011

We Love Our Daddy

A cool July morning in the high country. The ambulance tone goes off indicating an emergency in a nearby subdivision. Minutes later, I follow my youngest brother into a bedroom where an elderly man lies in pain.


He opens his eyes. Sees my father-look-alike-brother. “Are you Doctor Nebblett’s boy?”, he asks in a faint voice. My brother nods and smiles. I kneel by the bedside and he looks into my face. “Are you his too?”. “Yes”, I answer.


“Good”, he sighs. “Everything will be all right now.”


And I realize again, how big are the shoes I have to fill as my daddy’s representative.


The summer deepens. I’m at another bedside. On a home visit with my daddy. He has just broken the news that she doesn’t have long to live. She looks up at him. So trusting. “I’ll do whatever you say, Doctor”. I hold her hand, and together we gaze out of the open door at the bluest of blue skies as he discusses her medications with her children.


How privileged I have been to be with him in those moments. How blessed to watch the compassion of my Jesus flowing out of him. I’m inspired.


I think of the days when he kindly read to me “Fuzzy Wuzzy the Caterpillar”- by far my favorite literary work as a two year old. I must have asked for it hundreds of times.


My 7th birthday marked a turning point for him. He made a commitment to our family that meant sacrifice to many aspects of his successful career. But he stuck with his decision to place us first.


There were the endless questions through the growing up years. From “What vitamins do bananas have in them?” to “What happened when Titus led his army to destroy Jerusalem?” to “Why do guys act that way?” and beyond... He always made time to answer.


And now, he has reached his 60th birthday. How grateful I am to have grown up under the shadow and protection of a man of God. How excited I am to see him reaching for new horizons, instead of simply settling back to “enjoy the fruit of his labors”.


The greatest gift he has given to my siblings and me is the way he has modeled the love of God in his daily life. We have known long before we could reason that we could trust God. That we could depend on Him. That He loved us. Because we experienced all that in our daddy.


Happy Birthday Father! We love you!


A Bethlehem Story


I read two Bethlehem stories this morning. 
The second story is the one you think about when you read the word Bethlehem.  
On Christmas we most often think of the Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes.  But, Who is this King of glory?  The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle... Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory.  
Ironic, then, how my reading this morning first took me past a different Bethlehem story- A story of war.  
Seems David is tired of being cramped up in a cave, and has a moment of longing for some water from a well that is in the center of an enemy stronghold. Three mighty men hear the wish, and for the happiness of their king, risk life and limb to bring back a canteen.  
Imagine the scene when the call for reinforcements goes out- “There’s been a breach in the guard. Three men are in the camp...!!” The forces descend. 
The three move through the swarms of opposers like a well oiled mower through tall grass- until they reach the well.  Perhaps one has the flask and dips down while the others cover his back. 
Task half accomplished. The flask is full, but the king doesn’t have it in hand. 
The canteen is slung over a shoulder, the sword gripped in hand.  The three fight out. And I thought I was brave? Crazy. 
Now fast-forward. Here comes the pretty story we all first thought about.  Same streets. Same well.  
Instead of cries of war, come cries of worship.  A babe is born- A King. 
Instead of desiring to receive water, this King wants to give it. 
Instead of needing someone to bring it, He needs someone to take it and share it. 
You and I overhear His longing. 
Who is as mindless of life and limb, and as passionate about carrying the canteen into the enemy camp- this time not to fill, but to pour out? 
Who are the mighty three, or four, or ten thousand who will take on an army for the happiness of that same King in the cradle? 
I guess the Christmas story reveals not just the most incredible gift, but a most incredible opportunity. Makes me think through the story of Bethlehem twice. 


Merry Christmas!

Christmas Day... Our hearts run over.
Today finds us miles from where we the thought we'd be, and missing the friends we thought we were going to spend Christmas with, but blessed nonetheless.

God takes the brunt of our thanks, for unbelievable condescension, unbreakable devotion, unquenchable love...
But there is plenty left. And so for you we lavish thanks... For all God has given, and worked, and how He has loved us through all of you this year.

So from us, here in this little corner of west Texas...

Merry Christmas






Saturday, December 24, 2011

With Gratitude...


I’m usually a pretty happy fellow, so I don’t like it when my spirit heads south. 
The last week has been so full. What time wasn’t taken by GYC preparation was filled with personal family growth opportunities (aka trials). We usually like to talk it all through as a family, but the week just hasn’t afforded more than a partial evening’s rendezvous. This usually wouldn’t put me in crisis mode, but this weekend we’re really in need of catch up time for a number of reasons. 
Needless to say, we were so looking forward to collectively landing back at the house in Socorro to talk it all over last night. Imagine the distress, then, when 30 crazy miles of unopened interstate turned Mother and Chantée back to spend another night in Albuquerque.  
I was tempted to be angry at NM Highway Patrol. Why in the world would they have opened North bound, and South bound was still closed after 12 hours of fairer weather? (Granted, lazy flakes still descended here and there, but the horrific wind and drifting had certainly ceased...)
As the western clouds began to provide an ambient night-light, I started getting what dementia caregivers call “sundown syndrome”. Everything went blue. 
At the height of my disappointment, heaven sent a dove to remind me of my thoughts just 24 hours earlier. I had been electrified by the exhilarating effects of clearly answered prayers. God had made realities of seemingly impossible opportunities. Not just once, but time and time again. 
Now here I was, on my face because He decided it better for my prayer for reunion to be answered with another delay... Silly boy. I guess I had forgotten...There’s always something to smile about. Always a gift to rejoice over. 
Thank you, my Jesus, for the reminder. 
“Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You’ll provide in other ways 
And if that’s the case... 
We’ll give thanks to you 
With gratitude...



Friday, December 23, 2011

Texas... or so we think.


I stand by the kitchen island. A burst of fresh snow-filled air rushes in as Joshua enters the house. I look at his incredulous face. He reports that the Excursion just started sliding out of its parking spot by itself due to the high winds, heavy snow, and foundation of ice that was under it in the first place. It stopped after a bit, but...
We’re hitting the road. Heading for Texas for Christmas and GYC. Or so we think. I fall asleep in the dark car even though it is only 6:30 or so in the evening. I wake up around 8:00. We are traveling at about 35 mph. Visibility is maybe 10 feet. I’m wide awake now! We continue slowly on. Forget Tucumcari. If we can make it to Socorro (normally 2 hours from home, but now a much longer drive) we’ll be glad. Several more miles and we see blue and red lights ahead through blinding white. This is too much. Highway 60 closed. Now what? 


We settle in for the night. If the road opens, we’ll be here to go through it! We pull into the post office parking lot. If you want to hear Sean’s rendition, go here. While this is an unfortunate situation, we’d rather laugh about it then any other reaction. So it takes awhile for us to wind our amusement down and go to sleep.   
10 to midnight I awake. Father is conversing out the open window with a friendly police. I’m sleep dazed. Moments later Sean, Joshua, and Father are out in the snow, wrapped in their dress coats, pushing a patrol unit buried past its axles. If I weren’t so out of it from just having awakened, I would laugh at the irony of the sight. The guys come in covered in white, while the police blinks his lights in a cheerful goodbye. We laugh in delight. We are sleeping in our van, and dub it the “Town and Country Inn.” It takes us a while to return to our fitful sleep. Every couple hours we drive around, get out of the drifts building up around our car. 2:00 a.m. 4:10 a.m. 6:00 a.m. We start stirring, even though it is still dark outside and there isn’t much to do awake. We dig Bibles out. 
Daylight comes, with wind still whipping, snow still falling. We watch with amusement while vehicles all around us do doughnuts in the snow, get stuck, get pushed out. We talk to Mama and Chantée, stranded in Albuquerque. We talk to our neighbors, stranded in southern NM. And we try to decide what to do, how to proceed. All three New Mexican interstates are closed. We’re stuck in the state. Keep us in your prayers, and we’ll keep you posted. :)    

Sit still for 1 hour and the snow drifts to a foot and a half on the leeward side.

Our friends who chose the motel might need to book for another night! 

P.S. We just got the go-ahead to drive on the closed road, so we're off. There's between 1 and 2 feet on the road. Sometimes it comes over our hood obscuring the view. 

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Only One Jesus


I head down steps into our basement. I’ve been fighting a cold over the past few days, hovering in limbo between sickness and health. Mama has sent me down to the guest room, because our wood stove has had some trouble leaking smoke. My mild sensitivity to it keeps me sneezing and congested. In the guest room, with all doors closed I shall open the window, and allow the (freezing) fresh air to fill the room. 
I’m feeling unenthusiastic about this. I’d rather be upstairs where it is warm. I close door, pile blankets over my already high quality sleeping bag, and prepare to slip in. Last of all I open the window. Frigid, spicy, snow cleansed air spills into the room. I rush for my cocoon of warmth. 
I feel down. Down because of this cold that won’t go away. Down because I’m down here instead of upstairs with my family. Down because the usual gusto I have for life has been lacking over the past little while. Down because I’m... down.
I pray. And the Comforter soothes my heart until I’m ready to settle in. Buried in my sleeping bag beneath warm blankets, I reach out a hand for my iPod to check the time. When it turns on the name of the song last played greets my eyes: “God So Loved the World.” I’m about to navigate away, when I’m stopped by the thought that maybe I should listen to it. I do. Sweet children’s voices fill my ears.  
“God so loved the world, God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son; His only begotten Son...”
Wait a minute. We’re talking about God here... God. He has everything, right? Wealth, power, resources, angels, worlds loyal; He never gets cold or hot, never hungry or thirsty, never lacks anything. He has self-existent life, original, unborrowed, underived. And if there was something He was missing, His mere word would bring it about. He has everything. How is it then that He gave His only...?? 
The word “only” pierces my heart now. His only Son... 
I picture the Father in heaven. The spot on the throne where His Son always sat is empty. Why? Because His Son is down there on that tiny earth God so loves. Empty, for the first time in eternity. Empty. 
Imagine the emptiness God must have felt at that moment. So what if He has wealth, power, resources, angels, worlds loyal, etc, etc.?? There is only one Jesus. Only one. And God gave Him - didn’t lend Him - gave Him to the human race. For eternity. Gave Him to me. 
Suddenly I realize God and I have something in common. We both have only one Jesus. God of course has a right to Jesus. He’s His Son. Of course God would want Him around- He’s the Prince of Heaven. They’ve always been together. Of course God wouldn’t want to give Him up.
But I need Jesus, so desperately; and only Jesus will do. I’m lost without Him. And He is the only One who can help me, lift me up, save, transform, and recreate me. God looks at me, and God looks at Himself. We both need/want the same Person. But God loves me so, that He gives me His Son. 
My heart strains. I cry. My breath comes in little choking sobs. I listen as children’s voices continue - “That whosoever believeth on Him should have.... everlasting life.” 
The frigid room I’m in seems suddenly the most wonderful place in the world. I have the love of God, and I have Jesus. Yes, the One and Only Jesus. He’s mine. 
My irregular breathing irritates my cough, and I spend the next hour or so in side and throat splitting discomfort. Usually under such circumstances I pray for the cough to be relieved. Now I scarcely care. Let me stay awake all night! I have Jesus, and I talk to Him in prayer. 
I relish the words of another favorite song about this same one and only Jesus around whom all the life and love of the universe revolves:
“Thou the Promise, and Keeper of the promise,
Our salvation, and our only Savior,
Our redemption, our Redeemer,
Thou art ours, and we are Thine.”
I sleep. And yes, as is always the case when I follow Mama’s instructions, I feel much better come morning light.  
I walk around lost in the wonder. God, the entire universe, and I, all cherish that one Person. There’s only one Jesus.        




Monday, December 5, 2011

With Cupped Hands


This past Wednesday we were blessed to share a Thanksgiving concert for our community, knowing that we would lack the time this December for our promised yearly Christmas concert.
As we reflected on the blessings of the past year, sang and shared from our hearts, we blessed the Lord for the fruit of trials, griefs and loss in our lives.
It struck a chord in the hearts of many in the audience, as evidenced by the tears running down their cheeks as we sang, and the thoughts some chose to share privately afterwards... 
“Troubles nearly always make us look to God; His blessings are apt to make us look elsewhere.” Oswald Chambers
“Our sorrows do not spring up out of the ground.  In every affliction God has a purpose to work out for our good.  Every blow that destroys an idol, every providence that weakens our hold upon earth and fastens our affections more firmly upon God, is a blessing.  The pruning may be painful for a time, but afterward it ‘yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness.’  We should receive with gratitude whatever will quicken the conscience, elevate the thoughts and ennoble the life.” ML 93.
My Lord, draw me nearer; help me to trust the Hand that was nailed to the cross for me.  Make me willing, with cupped hands, to receive all the gifts of Your providence , whether they produce tears or laughter in the moment, confident that if I receive them with gratitude and faith, they will yield peace and joy in the end and will help work out Your glorious purpose in my life...
“...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” Ps. 30:5
“For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.  
“O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold, I will lay thy stones with fair colors, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. 
And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones.” Is. 54:10-12






Untitled from Nebblett Family on Vimeo.







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