Lessons My Father Taught Me

I posted this a few years ago, but wanted to share it again this Father's Day in honor of  of my father.   William Elder Gaston was born in Sheffield, Alabama on May 7, 1913, the youngest son of William Henry and Lena Gaston. To some he was Brother, to some Uncle Brother. To others he was Deacon Gaston and yet others called him “Professor.”  A very few called him Bill.   My mother called him “Babe.”  I simply called him "Daddy." Daddy  was all of 5’8,  an unassuming man with a gentle and quiet spirit.  Some may say he was reserved.  I remember a man full of jokes (he was the King of Corny), and when he got tickled (usually by his own corny jokes), his whole body vibrated with laughter. I remember a man of prayer, a man who cherished family.  He was a giving man.  He was a man who  trusted God. My father was  a man full of wisdom, a man full of love. Yes, I was a “Daddy’s girl.”  My father couldn’t leave the house without me tagging along. It didn’t matter where he was going—the hardware store, the post office, the gas station—I was right by his side.  To this day, hardware store smells stir memories of Daddy and me shopping for hammers, nails, paint and sundry DIY items. It was on many of those excursions that I learned the most from him—invaluable lessons that are indelibly etched in my soul.  It wasn’t always…

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Reflections at the Foot of the Cross

Then Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” -- Luke 23:34a At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light, And the burden of my heart rolled away, It was there by faith I received my sight, And now I am happy all the day!” ― Isaac Watts I will never forget the day I gave my life to Christ.  It was a sweltering Sunday morning in June—Children’s Day—and our little Baptist church was packed.  I sat fidgeting on the front pew next to my father. I was eight years old and I had made up my mind. This was the day. And so when Pastor Lewis offered the invitation to discipleship as he had so many other Sundays before, I leaned over and whispered in Daddy’s ear, “I want to be saved.”  He smiled and nodded, and I nervously stepped forward. Pastor Lewis knelt down, cradled me in his arms and, after a series of questions, welcomed me into the family of God. I was saved! That was the first of many “salvation” moments.  My seeming inability to "get it right" made me think that perhaps it hadn’t taken the first time.  And over the years I’d rededicate my life to Christ and then rededicate my rededication. (I attended college in the 70s. Need I say more?) I spent time these days leading up to Resurrection Sunday reflecting on the greatest event in all of history—the Death, Burial…

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A Thanksgiving Reflection

Keep on giving your thanks to God, for he is so good! His constant, tender love lasts forever! Psalm 118:1 TPT 2020—what can I say?  It’s been unlike any year we’ve lived through.  It’s been challenging on multiple fronts.  It’s been revelatory.  It’s been what I’d term a “good hard year.”  Good because it has allowed us to see and experience things that have opened our eyes to some truths about ourselves, our world, our faith, our God. It has taught us resilience and resourcefulness.  It's forced us to rethink how we do life, caused us to readjust and, in some cases, hit the reset button.  It's caused many of us to slow down and reexamine the choices we've made. It's caused us to appreciate life and value time more. It's caused us to look around and see what matters most. It's caused many to see if what they profess to believe is what they live out in real time. Personally,  it has anchored me more deeply, tethered more tightly to the One Who is my life. As I think about, it's been a hard year for those same reasons.  It's just our nature to resist change—even when it's necessary. This Thanksgiving I am filled with gratitude for both the good and the hard. Today, as I reflect on all I have to be grateful for, I find myself pondering this thought posed by the psalmist: What if God had not been on our side?  (Psalm 124:1a TPT) It’s…

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Finding God in Interruptions

So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose.  Romans 8:28 TPT I’d made the decision! After a year and a half of near-constant pain and cortisone shots that were becoming less and less effective. After standing in my bathroom one day in so much pain all I could do was cry (and then get angry at myself for crying).  After being given all my medical options.  “You have to decide how much pain you can live with,” Dr. S had said.  “We can try to manage the pain, but the only way to be pain-free is. . .” After years of praying and believing for a re-creative miracle, I prayerfully decided to have total knee replacement surgery. I had completed practically all the pre-surgical requirements:  blood work, total joint replacement class, exercises to strengthen quads.  All that was left was to get clearance from my dentist and a check-up with my primary care physician.  I was all set! “No surgery for you, my dear!”  Dr. Hill said. “You have an abscessed tooth.”  The look in my eyes must have shown utter disbelief coupled with disappointment because he proceeded to paint a very graphic picture of what might happen if I had surgery and got an infection (a picture, I might add, I did not need to envision). …

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Jesus Loves Me!

Then you will be empowered to discover what every holy one experiences—the great magnitude of the astonishing love of Christ in all its dimensions. How deeply intimate and far-reaching is his love! How enduring and inclusive it is! Endless love beyond measurement that transcends our understanding—this extravagant love pours into you until you are filled to overflowing with the fullness of God! Ephesians 3:18,19 The Passion Translation It was a God-ordained moment that August morning in 2005.  A rare moment when my mother and I were completely alone in her hospital room. No doctors prognosticating.  No nurses prodding.  No visitors praying.  Just the two of us, engulfed in God's peace.  A moment-–poignant and precious—that I will always hold in my heart. I gingerly climbed in the bed with Mommy and snuggled close.  She was tired. She hadn’t slept for days as if  she knew that if she closed her eyes, she’d awaken in the Presence of God.  Not that she was afraid of death; she wasn’t.  She’d seen beyond this earthly place and knew Who awaited her.  All she needed to know now was that I’d be OK. I snuggled closer and began singing:           Jesus, loves me this I know;           For the Bible tells me so;           Little ones to Him belong; They are weak, but He is strong. Mom shifted in the bed. I continued:          Yes, Jesus loves me;          Yes, Jesus loves me. . . She looked at me with knowing and sang, her…

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Unapologetically (Sorry, Not Sorry)

"But God's amazing grace has made me what I am! And his grace to me was not fruitless. In fact, I worked harder than all the rest, yet not in my own strength, but God's, for his empowering grace is poured out upon me." 1 Corinthians 15:10 The Passion Translation  She’d answer the phone speaking in tongues! “Hello, Mother Clark!” I’d say. She’d laugh with such delight as she always did when I called, and she’d say (as she always did), “Ah, Sister Deborah! Daughter, I was just thinking about you!”  She’d barely give me a chance to ask how she was or if she needed anything before she’d go straight prophetic on me, give me a “thus saith the Lord,” and then pray for me.  I’d hang up, eyes filled with tears and heart filled with gratitude. I admit I don’t remember a lot of those conversations now. But there are some that I will never forget, for the words lodged deep in my spirit.   They didn’t necessarily take root at the time, but from time to time now those words returned to me to heal, to shift my perspective, to settle me more deeply, to strengthen my resolve. I’d come home from work one afternoon and called Mother Clark just to check on her. She began telling me about a segment of the Oprah Show about birth order that she’d just watched. Then she said, “You are bold, full of dazzle and sparkle! Full of life! Gifted…

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