Saturday, June 30, 2012

You Taught Him

Note: This post was composed the night my dear Abuelita died. 

Darkness settles. One breath follows the next. My eyes and sinuses ache from the evening's abundance of tears. And I listen, over and over, while piano and orchestra play Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs from Handel’s Messiah, and express it with even more feeling than the lyrical rendition..

For months rare has been the night that I haven’t tucked my grandma in bed, kissed her soft cheek, and told her I loved her before I closed the drapes and turned out the light. For months I’ve walked out of her bedroom to the soft murmur of Mama praying in Spanish, while Abuelita’s little eyes slowly closed. And now Surely He Hath Borne Our Griefs plays, and her bedroom is empty... 
My mind brings up memories, relives them. One in particular stands out above the rest.
About 5 years ago, my older cousin whom we rarely get the blessed opportunity to see, came to visit. Between the transformation years had wrought on him and the toll of her dementia, Abuelita could not remember him. The first evening Mama and my uncle were trying to help her place him.  “He is your first grandchild”... *blank look*. “He grew up in Chicago, spent time with you every weekend”... *confusion*. Finally Mama said, “Don’t you remember him? You took him to church. You taught him to love Jesus.” 
Instant recognition. Those words made the connection.
Tears of joy welled up in her eyes and spilled down her cheeks. My cousin, that tall, handsome man who as a little boy had learned at her knee of the Almighty, crossed the living room, took her in his arms and kissed her cheeks. Her joy was complete. The smile on her face was radiant the rest of the evening, while my cousin held her little arthritic hand in his strong ones. That was the last time she was under one roof with all her children, grandchildren, and one great grand child at the same time.  
If I were to recount all the precious memories of my grandma, I should have to write a book. But that one memory frames best the 89 years of her life. Her devotion to God was the backdrop against which love for God took deep root in the lives of her progeny. 
Now she sleeps, and I remember, and He bears my grief. I can only hope and pray that when I come to die, such a thing can be said of me -
“Don’t you remember? You taught them to love Jesus.” 

Friday, June 22, 2012


The clouds gather outside. The wind blows gently. The Sabbath is quietly approaching.
This Sabbath, all of us will rest. Even our dearest Abuelita (Grandma). Her struggle is over. She peacefully breathed her last breath a few hours ago (just a few hours after her son arrived from across the country).
Our hearts rejoice even through the tears that fill our eyes. We serve a God of mercy. He gave a precious treasure to the world for 89 years. And more specifically, gave our home this precious treasure for the past 3 years. 
Her presence has been a benediction. Even with increasing dementia, she has been a catalyst for love in our little world. We will never cease to praise our Heavenly Father for the gift of her life.
We will miss her. But we are thankful that she is resting in Jesus. We will see her on that glorious morning.
“Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Psalm 116:15

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Price of the Infinite

I slip between my sheets. It’s much later than I was hoping to get to bed. I have iPod in hand and I’m going to listen to the crucifixion story before I go to bed every night, this being the first in spite of the hour. I listen to Matthew’s account, but because of how late it is, I slip in and out of consciousness...
I awaken to hear some of the most wicked words ever spoken - 
“What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you? 
I’ve hear those words and the response before, many times. But they jar my freshly conscious mind. 
“And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” 
Wait, Stop.
 Two images flash across my mind’s eye. The first, of the Sombrero galaxy, my favorite, 28 million lightyears from home. And God’s words accompany it, “Hath not my hand made all these things?” *

The second is the pale blue dot picture. Us, as seen from the edge of our solar system, by Voyager I on its way out. Us, suspended a mere "mote... on a sunbeam". ** Little tiny us. 

You and I, we live on that speck.

And we, we sell Him for 30, just 30 pieces of silver. 

My mind recoils. How dare anyone sell Him, Him, for 30 ridiculous pieces of silver. All the gold on the planet (this bitty planet) wouldn’t be enough to buy His fingernail. Don’t you know what He’s worth?? 
I drift asleep again. I awaken to hear rabble (us) demanding the release of Barabbas, insisting that this One that has lavishly honored our pale blue dot by visiting it in person, this One that made the Sombrero galaxy, and Andromeda galaxy, and the Black Eye galaxy, and our own Milky Way, and 100 billion others (that we know of), we want Him dead. We don’t think He is worth any more than 30 gray pieces of cheap metal.
Eventually I awaken again, enough to turn off my iPod, and then I sleep solid until my alarm awakens me. My thoughts pick up where they left off, but with a humiliating streak in them now. How many times have I gone through my day, been faced with the choice between Him and some sinful Barabbas, and traded Him for 30 seconds of carnal thought, of sinful attitude, 30 words better left unspoken, and sent Him away to be crucified afresh at my choice? How many times have I done worse? 
Wait, Stop. Oh please stop.

Don’t you know what He’s worth?
Black Eye Galaxy

"Hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered." - Graham Kendrick

*Acts 7:50
** Carl Sagan
Photo credit: NASA, Hubble Images 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sunrise of Love

It is a time of rejoicing in the Nebblett household as we witness the shaping of a new God-fearing family.  We echo the sentiments of J.R. Miller in his eloquently expressed thoughts on marriage and family:  “It is a high honor for a woman to be chosen from among all womankind to be the wife of a good and true man.”
Luke Fisher is such a man, who has rightfully gained our respect, trust and affections over the past year.  As the blessed Sabbath (June 8) was approaching, he honored our daughter and brought unspeakable joy to her heart through his marriage proposal.  There is none other to whom we would rather give her, to lead her, by God’s grace, on her journey to the very gates of heaven.
Miller remarks “A true wife makes a man’s life nobler, stronger, grander by the omnipotence of her love, turning all the forces of manhood upward and heavenward.”      
May you, our precious, faithful daughter, Chantée, be empowered by our gracious Lord to be such a wife to him, thus fulfilling this holy trust, by His grace.  May He make your new home a place of love, joy, and peace, yielding healing and benediction to all who come under its influence.

P.S. Thoughts from Chantée forthcoming. :)

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Signatures of Grace

“So see, this needs to be in ice, or it will go bad. Who is going to get some?” The speaker was Chantee, standing over some marvelous concoction which was supposed to be preserved for lunch. 
A slight pause followed. Then I volunteered. 
I picked up the little ice bucket and headed down the hotel corridor in sock feet. (My apologies, all you germ sensitive people out there - I know that is kind of yucky). I got to the cubby hole where the ice ought to be. Ugh, only vending machines, and a little sign that said, Ice on first and third floor. I’d go get it alright, but not in socks. I headed back to the room for some shoes, and that’s when I saw dark eyes peeking around a door jam watching me. I grinned back. “The ice is only on the first and third floor. I need my shoes.” “Oh, get in here,” Joshua took my arm and pulled me in the room, “I’m not sending you to a different floor by yourself. Give me the bucket.” And after having watched the entirety of my fruitless journey down the hotel corridor to make sure I was safe and sound, he finished off the act by getting the ice for me while I relaxed in the hotel room. 

* * * * * 

I come out of memory’s halls. I smile. Let me, my friend, tell you about grace...
Joshua once upon a time was a little boy, distractible, sensitive, affectionate, impulsive, thoughtless, generous beyond reason... Nothing was calculated. And so, he was the farthest thing from a hypocrite; his little intentions were made of gold. Likewise though, because of his carefree and thoughtless personality, trouble never seemed to be very far from him.
But it has taken only 23 revolutions of this earth around the sun for God to turn that little boy into a man - thoughtful, careful, focused, diplomatic, graceful in difficulty, and gifted in personal relations. He’s taken a boy that had good intentions, but could easily be led, and made a man of action that leads... 
For 23 years now (as of a month ago yesterday), grace has been at work and on display. And grace isn’t done. Makes me realize that the same God that took a shepherd boy off the hills of Bethlehem and made the greatest monarch and a man after His own heart - that God is still around. And still working. And still transforming. Repeating that same transformation in my brother, and in people everywhere. And even when we look at our little broken lives and cannot see what God is doing, He is still breaking and molding and making a masterpiece with His scarred hands. And when we look back we can see His signature...
May grace more abundantly etch your new year with its signature, Joshua. 

We love you.

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