A Mind Full of Memories

2012-02-26-sandhillsOn Thursday night of this past week, I received a phone call about 10:30.  It was a call from my cousin:  “Hey Stan, I wanted you to know that Mom just died.”

I didn’t sleep much that night.  I kept thinking about my Aunt Ila.  I reminisced about my childhood days at Sallyards, and the Seymour gatherings at that white house bordered by railroad tracks on the South and surrounded by the captivating beauty of the Flint Hills.

My memories were of a time when both Ila and I were much younger.  As I thought of her, I remembered the sound of her joyful laugh, the infectious smile that lined her face, and the sparkle in her eyes.  Most of all, I remembered her kind gentle spirit and the warmth of her ever-present love.

As I thought about her love, I remembered the words of the Apostle Paul:

For I am persuaded that not even death or life, angels or rulers, things present or things to come, hostile powers, height or depth, or any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord! 

~Romans 8:38-39

I hope this verse convinces you, as it does me, that not even the princes of darkness can separate us from the love of God.

When you are stirred up and trampled down by the tragedy of death and the miles of trials you’ve walked in your life, why not take a peek at things from God’s perspective? God has a hold on you and He isn’t going to let you go.

Jesus said:   My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all. No one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

Are you “persuaded” by the words of Paul and convinced that there is no power on earth or below or heaven above that can separate you from the love of God?

I think Aunt Ila was convinced of this truth.  I think she could say:  “We have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him (I John 4:16).”

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Whenever I look North of Highway 54 and my eyes see an empty and vacant pasture that used to be Sallyards, my mind is still full of memories.

One that remains and will always be cherished is the memory of Aunt Ila’s love.

Our Loss is Heaven’s Gain

Today is one of those days when memories flow through my mind like a river flowing through the narrows of limestone bluffs. I’ve run many such rivers in my canoe, and they, like my memories, are scenic and soothing.

This morning I awoke with memories of my dad and the times I spent with him. These are memories of baseball, wading creeks, hunting and fishing, and Sugar Loaf Hill, and Sallyards.

These memories are always present, but they are more fertile the first of November for two reasons: Prairie Chickens and Quail! This is because Dad started taking me hunting with him as soon as I could walk.

My dad enjoyed life—even though his was much too short. He taught me to love and respect everything Mother Nature has to offer; to play and enjoy the game of baseball; to hunt and fish; and to see the beauty of the Flint Hills—when your early years are spent in Sallyards, the Hills leave an indelible mark on your soul.

Whenever we lose something, our memories act as an anchor, and we often turn to them for a sense of comfort and normalcy. Such is the case with me this morning.

On Thursday of this week I stood at the bedside of a dying woman. Her life of 91 wonderful years was coming to a close. I quoted Psalm 23 to her, and I said: “Aunt Catherine, I’m happy for you. In a few minutes you’ll be with Jesus. Remember to tell my Dad hello for me. I haven’t seen him for a long time and I still miss him and still love him.”

Catherine Beedles has been the best aunt anyone could ever want. She loved her nieces and nephews like they were her own children. Most importantly though, she loved Jesus, had embraced the hope of the resurrection, and she had claimed Him as her Savior.

Over the last week, I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Aunt Catherine. We’ve reminisced and I’ve expressed my gratitude to her for all she has done for me. Every time I left, I left with a prayer and the words: “Aunt Catherine, I love you.”

As I think of this kind and caring woman, I think of Paul’s greeting to Timothy: “I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my ancestors did, when I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day. Remembering your tears, I long to see you so that I may be filled with joy, clearly recalling your sincere faith that first lived in your grandmother Lois, then in your mother Eunice, and that I am convinced is in you also (2 Timothy 2:3-5).”

Like my dad before me, I’ll be hunting this November morning with my son. I hope his future Novembers will be as full of memories as mine.