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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.


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.


On golden streets.

No. I know you will dance.


Integrity Should Show in the Way We Talk to Each Other

A Devotional By Donna Tobin Smith

It was Sunday morning and my husband and I were getting ready for church when I heard him call me to the television. “They’re showing a girdle on this shopping show. You’ll probably want to see this.”

Did he say “girdle”? For a split second, I fought the urge to run to the kitchen and fetch my frying pan. I glanced down at the skirt that I was wearing. Surely he wasn’t suggesting what it sounded like he was suggesting. Surely after 37 years of marriage he knew better than that.

The truth was, he did know better. The problem was, after all these years, I should have known better myself. He would never hurt my feelings on purpose. But sometimes, I didn’t hear him right. And sometimes, even when it wasn’t on purpose, he didn’t say things right.

I had noticed the same thing several times that week. It had happened at school. It had happened at church. It had happened at my sister’s house. My brother and I had gotten into a lively discussion about a “he said, she said” issue. I was adamant that the “she” side of the issue was right. He insisted that it really didn’t matter what the “she” side of the issue was, because the “he” side of this particular issue had the final say in the matter anyway.

It was only after I arrived home that night and started thinking about our conversation did I realize that I had fallen into the tangled web of miscommunication. Since it certainly wasn’t the first time I had noticed people having trouble communicating appropriately that week, I had even prepared a lesson for my Sunday school class at church about how important it is for Christians to communicate in a Christian way. I was pretty sure that “bossy big sister” was not on the “Nice Christian Communication Checklist” that I had planned to discuss in class.

Unfortunately, I had heard people who claimed to be Christians say some pretty un-Christian things. My brother assured me that my bossy tone had not hurt his feelings. In fact, he admitted, he had teased me just to see if he could aggravate me. It had obviously worked because I had taken my little brother’s bait and bit; hook, line, and sinker.

In spite of the bad taste it left in my mouth, our conversation had been mild compared to other conversations I had heard earlier in the week. Among hateful, unnecessary comments, I had also heard sarcasm, profanity, rumors, gossip, slander, angry outbursts, complaints, resentment, bitterness, negativity, and bold-faced lies. Whew! And where were the Christians? Behind every single word, that’s where.

It is obviously not a new problem. The third chapter of the book of James addresses our unbridled tongues.

“With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” (James 3:9-10)

That’s right, Brother, this should not be. Everything I say, whether it is to a sister or a brother, a colleague, a student, or a friend, should reflect the fruit of the spirit that lives in me; fruit like gentleness, faithfulness, kindness and self-control. (Colossians 5)

I haven’t changed my mind on the “he-she” issue that my brother and I discussed at my sister’s house the other night. But I’m glad the Lord still convicts me of how I express my opinion to others.

I hope He always will.



Imagine When We See

By Donna Tobin Smith

It was the 1990s and my husband and I were raising three sons. Anyone who says that raising boys is easy hasn’t done it. I loved every minute of that full-time exhausting job. But it wasn’t easy. If I wasn’t trying to retrieve green peas out of noses or popcorn kernels out of ears, I was scrubbing the mud off of something or someone.

The boys were busy all the time and each had his favorite things. The oldest one liked dinosaurs. The youngest one liked to build with Legos. And as most boys do, the middle one liked all kinds of cars. Big cars, little cars, fancy cars, and fast cars. He loved the roar of the monster trucks. He was crazy about Hot Wheels. He rumbled and raced remote control sports cars. Cars of every make and model were strewn all over our house. After tripping over the umpteenth car one week, I decided that I needed a little peace and quiet, away from booming engines and squealing tires.

Thank goodness for grandparents. They offered to keep the boys at their house for the weekend. My husband and I headed for Lynchburg, Virginia, far away from the young boy “vroommm, vroommms.” Or at least that’s what I thought, until my biggest boy, my husband, just happened to drive by a car dealership on our way to our hotel in Lynchburg. There it was – the brightest, canary yellow car I had ever seen. A 1994 Corvette. It looked just like one of the Hot Wheels that I had been tripping over. But this one was life sized.

By the time our weekend had ended, I was driving the car we had driven to Virginia toward home. And, yes, you guessed it. I was following my husband. He was driving a bright canary yellow 1994 Corvette. After spending our quiet, peaceful weekend haggling with a car salesman, he had bought the car.

We hid the car in our backyard at home before we picked up the boys. When we got the boys home, their daddy cleverly lured them out back where they soon discovered an honest to goodness life-sized Hot Wheels car. The oldest boy was speechless. The youngest one screamed. The middle one started to hyperventilate and I actually thought he might pass out. They didn’t understand. They had a million questions. They could sense the wonder, yet the mystery almost trumped their excitement. Their response was priceless.

My sons are grown men now. But their individual reactions to seeing that yellow Corvette for the first time is forever etched into my memory. I could never have predicted how awesome it would be.

Every time I remember that day I think about what my reaction will be to my ultimate surprise in this life. What will I do the day I see my Jesus face to face? “Surrounded by your glory, what will my heart feel? Will I dance for you, Jesus, or in awe of you be still? Will I stand in your presence or to my knees will I fall? Will I sing hallelujah or will I be able to speak at all?” (“I Can Only Imagine” by Bart Millard)

Of all our earthly treasures, none can compare to our Savior. There is no surprise that will ever match the glory of the day we meet our Lord. I wonder if it could be anything like the looks on three boys’ faces the day they saw the most wonderful thing they had ever seen in their young lives.

I can only imagine.