Category Archives: Devotional

cleaning

Faithful Living

(or whatever you want to call it)

By Donna Tobin Smith

Scrubbing, mopping, spraying disinfectant. Scrubbing, mopping, spraying disinfectant…

Our house had been hit with the flu bug and it seemed that I was the last man standing. Well, our youngest son was still standing, too, but for the most part he was holed up in his room, trying to avoid the invisible germs that were hovering in our house. I had taken the flu shot in the early fall, but from the reports on the nightly news, I knew that I was only approximately 36% protected from one of the nasty influenza strains that was lurking around every corner.

I hoped that I hadn’t been the carrier of the flu that settled in our home, but working in a high school lab every day sure wasn’t a neutral zone, either. The absentee list was long and the students that were coming to school often brought their sneezes and lingering coughs with them.

The teachers that I worked with were armed with cans of disinfectant spray, too, wiping tables and chairs after every class. The ladies who supervise the lab constantly carried plastic containers of disinfectant wipes, cleaning computer keyboards, light switches, and door handles throughout the day. Huge containers of hand sanitizer emptied as teachers and students alike pumped every time they passed them.

Yet the sickness remained. No matter how much we cleaned, scrubbed, mopped, and sprayed, the sickness remained.

After cleaning and scrubbing for two solid weeks at home, the sickness didn’t go away, either. Finally, I coaxed and carried our sick one to the doctor. The doctor prescribed powerful medicine and hopefully, our sick one is now well on his way to recovery.

There is no doubt that clean living is necessary to keep the bad germs away. But sometimes no matter how clean we live, no matter how faithfully we serve, no matter how dedicated our lives are to the Lord, we are knocked to our knees by sickness that wracks our bodies or our minds and we can’t recover on our own. Sometimes we are knocked so hard that, without the Lord’s divine intervention, we will never recover. And sometimes, yes, sometimes, it is His perfect will to take some of us on to our heavenly home for His eternal heavenly healing that we could never experience on earth.

But don’t think of that as failure if you are a Christian. In the ninth chapter of John, the Bible tells the story of a man whose eyes were “sick.” It is about the encounter that Jesus’ disciples had with a man blind from birth and the question that they asked Jesus about his condition. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, ‘but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.’” (John 9:2-3)

I love these words of Jesus and I believe them with all my heart. I have also dealt with a sickness for the past 26 years and it is only with the Lord’s mighty power in my life that I see my affliction from a heavenly perspective.

Are you sick today? Are you suffering from a temporary setback or an incurable disease that no amount of clean living can cure?

Then pray with all your might that the works of God might be displayed in you. Even from your sick bed, people see your strength. They see your faithfulness. This may be the season that God is calling you to be His most faithful prayer warrior as you intervene in the lives of others for His glory.

As the old saying goes, cleanliness may very well be next to Godliness. But in sickness and in health, there is no doubt that faithfulness will win out every time.

motherson

Slippn’ Into God’s Blessings

By Donna Tobin Smith

My oldest son will be 34 this month. I’m supposed to be 34, not my son.

I remember singing along with the Steve Miller Band when I was just a teenager, “Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ into the future.” I didn’t realize then that in only a few short years that my children would also be “slippin’” into the future.

motherson                In the blink of an eye, this grown son has gone from a young dinosaur loving boy to a real bone doctor. Recently his dad and I and our youngest son made a trip to Erie, Pennsylvania, to help him move into an apartment as he completes a final fellowship in hand surgery before he joins a permanent practice.

We knew it was going to be a trip of buying and toting and arranging for the most part. But with my son’s fellowship beginning in less than a week and only a few weeks until my own summer break from school was ending, we wanted to make sure we squeezed in a few minutes of fun.

We had already decided that Erie probably wouldn’t be the greatest place to visit, especially when compared to our trip to Sydney, Australia, where he just completed a fellowship in elbows and shoulders. In fact, my youngest son was already calling his brother’s new residence “Dreary.” But we just happened to choose the weekend of the Presque Isle State Park Festival. Our son surprised us by booking a helicopter tour of Lake Erie. Unfortunately, or gratefully, I should say, the tour was cancelled due to “mechanical” problems. We went to the festival anyway, and walked on the “beach,” saw a sand castle competition, and watched dozens of colorful kites whip through the wind. We discovered that in the summertime, at least, Erie wasn’t so dreary after all.

Since the helicopter ride was cancelled, my son had another arcadeidea. He had seen a sign advertising an “All You Can Play” arcade. He had originally thought his brother might like to visit the arcade. But with the helicopter tour cancelled, he decided to take dear old Mom and Dad there, too.

For ten dollars, you could play all day. We could only spare an hour, but the tickets were half price for the last hour of the day. We hit the arcade at 8:00 on the dot. It closed at 9:00. We were going to play until they ran us out. And play we did.

We played Skee-Ball, Half Court Hoops, and Evil Knievel Stunt Cycle. Then I challenged my oldest son to a friendly bowling match on Strike Master Shuffle. “Mama, I didn’t know you were so competitive,” he said. How could he have forgotten? We squeezed in a couple of Pitch and Bat baseball and Super Mario games before my youngest son and I closed the place down with a lively game of air hockey. He won. Rats.

Between his fellowships, my son was able to come home for a week this summer. One night we were reminiscing about our boys’ younger days with of friend of my oldest son when I mentioned that at one time, all three of our boys could recite Psalm 1. My son was in the next room. “Their daddy read it to them every night for years,” I added. Suddenly, his friend shouted, “Hey Josh, say Psalm 1.” Without hesitation, he began. “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”  I joined in. “He is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields it fruit inseason and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” We finished the psalm together.

“Which yields its fruit in season.”

Yes, time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin. But that’s ok. I’m thankful that I have lived long enough to recognize my blessings and to savor every single one.

kidsicecream

Lessons that Yield the Fruit of Righteousness

By Donna Tobin Smith

My memory is not as good as it once was. I guess that should be expected as we “mature,” for lack of a better word. And although I can’t remember what I did yesterday, it amazes me that some of my earliest memories are so etched in my memory that to think of them is like reliving the events all over again

One such memory is of something that happened to me when I was just a young child. My sister was with me, but she has absolutely no memory of the day at all. In fact, she has a hard time believing me when I tell her what happened. Maybe she doesn’t want to remember because we got in trouble with our mother that day. Big trouble.

It was a beautiful sunny morning on that day in the early 1960s. My mother had three preschool children at the time and another child on the way. She was busy with our little brother that morning and had encouraged my sister and me to play outside.

Playing in the front yard, I soon spotted the milk truck. In those days, Mama stayed at home with the children while Daddy drove our only car to work. With a house full of children, our family went through a lot of milk and since Mama had no way to go to the store, the convenience of having milk delivered was very important to her. I had often heard Mama tell the milkman to just “put it on our bill” if she needed an extra quart of milk that day.

I had also seen the milkman deliver ice cream to the children in our neighborhood. Mama never ordered anything but milk, and I sometimes wondered why we never got ice cream like some of the other children.

So that morning when I saw the milk truck stopping and starting on our street, I had an idea. “Go ask Mama if we can get ice cream from the milkman,” I instructed my sister. She ran straight toward the house while I kept my eyes on the milk truck.

“She said yes, she said yes,” my sister shouted as she ran around the corner of the house. Quickly I waved the milkman over and proceeded to order our treats. “Just put it on our bill,” I mimicked my mother, as he handed my sister and me our ice cream.

The minute we stepped inside the house and saw Mama’s face, I knew that something had not gone according to my plans. “Where did you get that ice cream?” Mama demanded.

I’ll spare the details of the rest of our conversation and the tales of swats with the flyswatter on our legs, although I remember that like it was yesterday, too.

It would be a long time before I learned the word “consequences,” but my mother taught me about suffering them for my actions that day.  The Bible says, “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

There will be people who excuse our little girl actions by saying we were just children, that we didn’t know better. But we learned from our mother that day, among other lessons, that it was wrong to tell lies and that you should never even think about taking something you are not able to pay for.

One look at the adults in our world makes me think that some parents may have neglected to teach their children lessons like the ones my mother taught my sister and me that day. But if we start now, maybe it’s not too late to start teaching our own children and grandchildren those life lessons that will shape their lives and help them make responsible decisions as adults.

After all, the most important lessons in life are the ones that yield the fruit of righteousness instead of painful consequences.

dancing

Dance of Parents is “A Love Unaltered By Time” – Devotional

By Donna Tobin Smith

It happened many years ago but I remember it like it was yesterday. I had gone to visit my daddy in the nursing home. When I walked into the room, Daddy’s noisy snore let me know that he was sound asleep once again. It was my third visit to the nursing home that week and no matter what time of the day I went, Daddy was never awake. So I talked to the man who shared the room with my father.

“I don’t understand it,” the man said to me with a puzzled look on his face. “Even though I see it with my own eyes every day, I just can’t explain it. Your father is different when your mother is here. When your dad is awake, he’s usually talking loud and he’s restless. He doesn’t understand what the nurses are doing when they try to care for him and he doesn’t like it. But when your mother is here, he’s like a different person. I can see the calming effect she has on him. Her voice, her touch. It really is amazing to watch.”

I knew exactly what he was talking about. I had seen it, too. My father let my mother do things for him that he would have resisted if others had tried. Although dementia had ravaged his memory, he let her shave his face with an electric razor and clip his fingernails while she gently explained what she was doing and why she was doing it.

“It’s the fifty-three years,” I had explained to my daddy’s roommate. Their anniversary was that month. Fifty-three years of good times and hard times. Fifty-three years of one day at a time, sharing a love that “always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (1 Corinthians 13: 7).

A love that had never failed.

My mother and father met at a square dance way back in the 1950s. Some of my most precious memories of my parents are of them dancing together. From the time he was a boy, Daddy had made a name for himself as a dancer. When Daddy was just a child, he loved to dance on a stump to collect nickels that people tossed his way to show how much they liked his smooth moves. As he twirled my mother across the dance floor, Daddy had an undeniable gentle rhythm that made people move back and watch in wonder. My mother, a wonderful dancer herself, was his perfect partner.

But as their anniversary approached that year, the lights had dimmed and the music had faded. He was in bed all the time. Every move was hard and he often grimaced in pain. Yet my mother sat by his bedside day after day, lovingly stroking his face and patting his head, gently passing butterfly kisses across his forehead.

It was in those sweet moments that I knew that the dance of my parents was far from over. It was a dance that would last into eternity. It was a dance of perfect rhythm, borne of devotion and adversity. It was a dance blessed and ordained by a holy God with a perfect purpose and plan.

Perhaps the words of “The Anniversary Song” say it best. “The night seemed to fade into blossoming dawn. The sun shone anew but the dance lingered on. Could we but relive that sweet moment sublime, we’d find that our love is unaltered by time.” (Lyrics by Pleyer and Ivanonici.)

I have seen with my own eyes that even heaven and earth do no separate the kind of love that my parents shared.

So Mama and Daddy, I hope you dance.

Someday.

On golden streets.

No. I know you will dance.