On Sunday morning I woke up early to spend some time with God and Lola on the back porch. I prayed for several minutes about the internal battle I've been struggling with the last couple of weeks, and I meditated on scriptures about how God's glory is being revealed through my suffering. I enjoyed sitting in the morning sun, eyes closed, listening to the birds--which always reminds me of how God takes care of me.
But on this particular morning, the pain in my heart wouldn't go away. It was there underneath everything, a heaviness, a dull aching.
"Why can't I feel your love this morning?" I asked. "Why won't you come to me like you did last week when I was awake during the storm?"
I heard nothing.
After a few more minutes of relaxing, I went inside to wake the family for church, and then I put on a pot of Cream of Wheat, Allyson's favorite. I had just poured the cereal into the boiling water when Allyson came down with her daddy.
"Mommy, I made a surprise for you!" she said. "Come and see."
"Just a minute, baby. I can't leave the Cream of Wheat right now."
"Please? I want to show you now."
I started to put her off again, but then I remembered the feeling I had on the swings last week, the realization that there is nothing more important than spending time with my family.
"Bill, will you stir this?" I asked. "I'm going up to see Allyson's surprise."
Beaming, she took my hand and led me up the stairs. At the top, she made me cover my eyes as she led me to the master bathroom. "Now you can open them, Mommy."
It took me a moment to spot the surprise, there among the sticky notes and snippets of paper that I'd been sticking to my mirror. Nearly every day I've been adding another scripture or encouraging word that God has given me through the Bible and through friends and family.
At the bottom, Allyson had added a sticky note of her own:
I was sobbing before I finished reading the note aloud: "God's love is higher and deeper and wider than we can understand."
I could tell from her crazy phonetic spelling that she had done this all on her own.
"Why did you do this?" I asked.
"I don't know, Mommy. It's a song we sing at church. I just wanted you to hear it."
"It was God who gave you this idea," I said as I folded her into a hug. I marveled at how she'd written a portion of my most precious memory passage, the one about being rooted and established in God's love.
Like a hundred other times when I have held her while she cried, she clung tightly to me, rubbing my back with tiny gentle hands.
I leaned my forehead against hers. "I love you so much, sweetheart."
She rubbed her nose against mine and we laughed.
All through the day I could feel God's love, and I saw signs everywhere. I cried all through the worship service because it seemed God had hand picked every song just for me. And the sermon! Every word of it was for me, right down to the pastor's "digressions."
Oh how He loves me.
Kisses From God
Speaking of Lola, I have to tell you a quick story. If you've been reading a really, really long time, you might remember the time God sent me a dolphin, or the time he told a horse to give me a kiss. Well, the other day he gave me some kisses I wasn't sure I wanted at first, but they really were sweet!
I was enjoying my morning quiet time while Lola ran around the yard chasing birds and barking at passing cars. Just as I closed my Bible, she came up to me and pushed her nose into my lap. I pushed her away once, twice, but she insisted on climbing right up onto my lap, gazing up at me with the adoring eyes she usually reserves for Bill.
"Okay, okay," I said, allowing her to put her heavy paws on my bare legs. She licked my chin ecstatically and looked straight into my eyes. "I love you," she said. "And so does God."
I smiled at her. "Thank you, Lola."
You know, I really do love that dog.