Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jonathan, then and now

This is an old picture of Jonathan that I got developed a couple of weeks ago from a roll of film I'd found.

He was two.

That year, for Halloween, I dressed him in those brown corduroy overalls, stuck some felt reindeer antlers from the previous Christmas on his head, and painted his nose red with my brightest lipstick. "You're Rudolf!" I told him, trying to be enthusiastic. He was less than impressed.

Our family had not been in the habit of trick-or-treating because at that time we went to a church where the cardinal sin was Halloween. All churches seem to have their own definitions of cardinal sins. Some choose Halloween, some choose alcohol, some choose
Santa Claus, and some choose judgmentalism. But that is an aside, and I am not going to pursue it.

Anyway, we had not been in the habit of trick-or-treating, but I had decided that I could not handle one more "Fall Festival" at church, with the screaming, the grabbing, the overload of sticky sugar and the flickering fluorescent lights. I'm sure those Fall Festivals are a blessing to many families, but that year I decided that we would take our chances at being a part of the neighborhood scene.

I loaded up my disgruntled Rudolf in his stroller and started out for the house next door. We pulled up, and I lifted Jon-Jon up to ring the doorbell and then set him in front of the door.

It opened and the kindly neighbors exclaimed delightedly over how cute Jon-Jon was. They gave him a candy bar, and then said, "Oh, you're so cute, why don't you pick another one?" He happily selected another bar and placed it in his plastic pumpkin. I prompted him to say thank you, and they said you're welcome, and there was a happy parting greeting and the door closed.

Jon-Jon stood there on the step, looking up at me with huge, stunned brown eyes. "I ringed da doorbell, and dey gived me tandy!" he said with awe and amazement.

Shawn says that at that moment a door-to-door salesman was born. At any rate, the rest of the evening, Jon had a ball going from door to door, collecting "tandy." To say that he was thrilled is putting it mildly.

Jon was always a master trick-or-treater. He had a seemingly endless attention span for visiting house after house, ringing doorbell after doorbell, long after the other kids would give up and go home to count their stash. He got tall really fast, so in seventh and eighth grade, he wore our Santa suit, and I would buy him a bag of peppermints to hand out to the little kids in the street who thought he really was Santa. By doing this, Jon extended his fruitful trick-or-treating to well after he had hit six feet in height. Even when he was traveling with a posse of kids his own age, he would report to me (with a twinkle in his eye) that the people gave him loads more candy than they gave to the other kids, because they loved his costume.

I thought of that because today is Halloween. Today is also the marching band state championships, so Shawn and I will be at the Syracuse dome watching Jonno compete with his marching band. After thirteen years of being good sports about Halloween in a neighborhood where you get upwards of 200 trick-or-treaters... this year, we are going to vacate and pursue another option.

Marching band is an interesting thing. You have to pay a lot of money to do marching band, because they have uniforms and trips and all manner of props for the field. It is a costly endeavor. Of course, since it is a public school we go to, they don't want to just straight up charge us, so they ask us to fundraise.

I never liked fundraising. Every year, the schools have some sort of fundraising event, and every year, I used to pitch the materials directly into the recycling bin, and nobody ever complained until Jon came along. "Can't I fundraise, please?" he would beg.

When he was about eight, he found a bag of cheap, penny candy in the cupboard, and took it around the block selling single tootsie rolls and dum-dums for 25 cents apiece. By the time I caught up with him, he had over $4, and the entire bag (which was still mostly full) had cost me $1.97. It was supposed to be prizes for my Sunday school class.

When I finally let Jon fundraise in middle school, he won the grand prize. And this with no parental support, no local relatives, and no orders from his father's office. We had a monster of a time trying to deliver the orders, because although he's a good seller, keeping records is not his strong suit. His grand prize consisted of multitudinous cheap electronic gimicky things that had very limited uses and very short lives.

But when we found out we needed to fundraise for Marching Band, at least I did not despair. True to form, Jon proved to be able to sell a box of 50 $1 candy bars in 45 minutes most afternoons.

Except one day. One really hot summer day, Jon went out with his box of candy to sell, and did not come back in 45 minutes. He did not come back in an hour. After an hour and 15 minutes, I began to worry. After an hour and a half, he returned, but he was not carrying an empty box. He still had 12 bars left.

Jon plunked his stuff down on the kitchen table and went to get a drink, complaining of how very, very hot it was outside, and how it was so hard to sell that day.

I looked at the things on the table, and noticed his obnoxious orange mirrored sunglasses sprawled next to the candy box. "Were you wearing these?" I asked, picking them up.

"I needed to!" he replied, "The sun is just beating down!"

"Well, that's why you couldn't sell, honey," I said. "People would feel threatened buying from someone who is over six feet tall and wearing mirrored sunglasses. Next time try a baseball cap. People would love to buy from a boy with big brown eyes and a baseball cap."

He poo-pooed me and insisted that had nothing do with it. However, the next time he went out to sell, he put on a baseball cap and was back with an empty box in 45 minutes.

Moral of the story? Santa suits and baseball caps go a long way when you aren't two-years-old anymore.

Jon in orange

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

New Bible!!!!

Since my old tan Bible that my parents gave me when I was 15 or 16 is now literally falling apart, I ordered myself a new leather Bible.

It is chocolate brown, slimline (only about an inch thick), and it has LARGE PRINT!

Because I am nearly 45, I need those big letters now.

I am overwhelmedly excited about my new Bible. I spent time reading some of my favorite passages today... just allowing myself to skip from favorite to favorite, which is sort of cheating, but it was such fun!

This Bible is so nice and sort of crisp, especially the gilt edges of the pages. Part of me can't wait until it is soft and broken in, and part of me wants it to stay new and fresh.

I plan to take good care of it, but I also plan to read it a lot.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Wednesday morning

In order to understand my Wednesday morning, I have to take you back to my Tuesday morning, and even a few hours prior to that.

In the middle of the night between Monday and Tuesday, I was awakened when my bedroom door opened to dim light from the hall and the silhouette of one of my very tall children. "Schubert was sick all over my room," Shannon bemoaned, "and I don't know what to do."

"Is he dead?" I asked, because I am always worried that the dogs are going to die. "Is he OK?"

"I can't tell," she replied morosely, "He just keeps wagging his tail at me."

That was reassuring, so I got up to survey the damage: dog puke on the comforter and dog diarrhea all over the carpet. I think we could have counted our blessings that the dog diarrhea was not on the comforter as well, or the pillows, but we didn't feel so inclined.

The next block of time we spent scooping, flushing, scrubbing (Oxyclean spray is amazing stuff, and they are not paying me anything to say that), stripping, rinsing, Lysoling (of course) and powering up the washing machine. I was glad it happened in Shannon's room because (1) For once it was not in my room, and (2) I had a cleaning buddy, o joy! Which was very handy in many ways, most specifically at the beginning when Shannon put Schubert outside out on his leash while I started removing the more solid pieces of fecal waste from her floor. Although this probably indicates that I am a very selfish person, at least I am a thankful selfish person. Also, I was able to keep from total panic at the worst point because we are planning to get new carpet anyway. Of course, we have been planning to get new carpet for about five years. The problem is that we need to do certain other jobs first (remodel the bathrooms and fix the woodwork on the stairs), and I am having a buggaboo of a time finding anybody to do them. But anyway, I was at peace about the carpet. It needed to be replaced before, and it does even more so now, and that is OK.

We decided to get the crate out of the basement and put Schu into it, because the last time he did this (in my room), I got up at 4 a.m. and cleaned my guts out, and then awoke to the sounds of more diarrhea hitting my rug at 6 a.m. So Shannon and I brought up the crate and lined it with two (washable) towels, and the dog went in without any complaints, miraculously.

Then I got into the shower and washed my feet and hands. Towards the end of the episode, Shawn had come conscious while we were trying to figure out what to do with the dog. He walked right across the carpet we had "shampooed", so I asked him to wash his feet, too.

Then I lay in bed and could not sleep. It was, for me, a very unusual state of not being able to sleep. Ordinarily when I can't sleep, my mind races uncontrollably from memory to worry to replayed conversation to grocery list, with prayers interlaced at points where I attain a little control. That night, however, I just lay there with a blank mind and could not sleep. This is particularly odd because it was Tuesday morning, and I had a Bible study to teach. I should have been rehearsing my lesson and praying. But there was just a big, blank, empty void in my head. It was among the oddest things I have ever experienced.

At 6 a.m. my alarm went off for Jonathan. It was time for me to make his eggs and coffee (an aside: I didn't let Jon have coffee for many years, telling him it would stunt his growth. But now that he is 6'3" with a size 13 foot, I decided that his growth could use a little stunting before clothing that fits becomes impossible to find. So I let him have as much coffee as he wants, usually.) I reached over to hit the alarm, through the big, blank void that was my brain, and I heard Shawn say, "Is that for Jonathan? What do you usually make him for breakfast?"

So Shawn was a prince and got up with the boy, fed him, sent him to school, while I lay between my sheets, awake and blank and completely dull, and I rested.

I taught Bible study, went to Wegman's, went home, put the food away, ate some lunch at about 2, and basically had a weird and unproductive afternoon. I tried to find a contractor again, so we can someday move forward on this carpet issue, but no-go so far. Nobody was home for dinner, which was lonely. In the evening, DJ had a jazz concert at Syracuse University, so Shawn and I went to that, through the rainy night.

By the time I got to bed Tuesday night, I was utterly exhausted, physically and emotionally. I slept deep until a certain point when I heard someone up, someone out in the hall, someone approaching my bedroom door.

Predictably, the door opened and there was a silhouette of a very tall child standing in the dim light of the hall. "Oh no." I thought "Oh no." And I could not articulate the rest of what I was thinking, but in retrospect I know that the unformed idea was: Schubert has soiled Shannon's room again.

So when I heard Jonathan's voice, and realized that this silhouette lacked any long hair, relief began to flicker into a warm flame in my heart. It was, indeed, Jonathan. "Mom?" he said in his deep, hard-to-interpret, sleepy adolescent male voice, "What's up? It's like 6:56. Did you forget to wake me up?"

The bus comes at 6:59. But I did not care. My heart was being carried on butterfly wings. There was not dog diarrhea awaiting me in the carpet! Somehow in my confusion from the previous night's events, I had messed up my alarm clock's settings, but I did not care. School doesn't start until 7:45. This was not a problem. No problem at all!

Ordinarily, Shawn and I would scold Jonathan for not having used his own alarm clock. But on Wednesday morning I was flooded with good will. I had enjoyed 45 extra minutes of sleep, and I did not have to clean up diarrhea. I told Jon, "Don't worry, we'll get you to school on time." Then I made him coffee and gave him a slice of pumpkin pie, and we were out the door by 7:12.

Jon ate his pie and drank his coffee and, I think, could not believe what a sweet and happy mother he had awakened. As we drove down Soule Road, I clutched the steering wheel and said, "Jonny, you don't even know, you don't even know how happy I am to be driving you to school right now instead of dealing with dog diarrhea."

I returned home, and started in on laundry and tidying. I made my bed, put an Australian-washed-blue-clay mask on my face and was just switching over a load of wet stuff from the washer to the dryer in the basement when the doorbell rang. It was the dehuey repairman from Sears, come to fix our dehumidifyer (because clearly, when it has not worked all summer, you should fix it in the fall for the winter). I heard the dogs bark. I heard Shawn let the man in. And then I heard them coming downstairs to where I was heedlessly doing laundry, pre-shower me in my hoodie, pajama pants and Austalian-washed-blue-clay mask.

Before they got around the bend in the stairs, I ran over to the area of the basement where Jonathan sleeps, where they would not need to go, and quickly worked on making up the futon he sleeps on, straightening Jon's comforter, which allowed me to have my back to the intruding handy man. As soon as they passed me and focused on the dehuey, I sprinted up the stairs, all the way to my bedroom (and I know that "heart in her throat" is more literal than figurative, when you are talking about how it feels... sort of the way "underfoot" and "at your elbow" are also literal, not figurative expressions, and I remember being a young mother and discovering this).

Safe in my bedroom, I took a nice, private shower and cleaned the mud off my face. After dressing and drying my hair, I screwed up my courage and took the next load of laundry down to the basement... where I found an empty space where the dehuey usually sits, and no repairman. They were gone; he had taken it to his shop to do some sautering.

So that was a second moment of relief in a strange morning, but life has been fairly normal since then.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A tribute

Yesterday I learned that a man had died.

He was L. John Buyse, and he is in heaven now, in a beautiful place, face to face with his Jesus. Next week I am teaching on Philippians 1:12-30, and the theme of the lesson is: "To live is Christ and to die is gain," (vs. 21). Up until today, I've been thinking about "To live is Christ," and the brokenness that demands, that we be broken for others the way He was broken for us. But today I see the sunshine and the glorious autumn leaves and the clear blue sky, and I think, "To die is gain," and I think of L. John and I know that it is true.

He was such a significant part of my formative years. My family belonged to First Baptist Church of Anoka, Minnesota. Mr. Buyse was the song leader there. He was always the song leader, since before I was born until some time after Shawn and I had moved to New York. In my heart and in my mind, he is the prototype, the epitome, the pattern that all song leaders should follow.

As a small child, I did not realize that he was singing when he led the songs. I think I even asked my parents once, "Why doesn't Mr. Buyse sing when he is leading the songs?" He was utterly unselfconscious. Nobody had to remind him, "You are not the focus of the attention; it is about getting the congregation to sing to the Lord." He just simply focused the congregation on singing to the Lord, never imagining that there was another way to do it. His voice was loud and strong, and when he sang, it sounded almost exactly the way it sounded when he spoke. He was never sharp or flat, and he was definitely a leader. He had no need to tell people he was a leader, he just led, and people followed him, in the music and in other areas of life.

Pastors came and went, but Mr. Buyse was always there. "Stand with me and sing hymn number..." I can still hear him saying it. Sometimes on a Sunday evening he would have a hymn sing and let the people in the congregation call out the number of the hymns they would like to sing. Those were glorious evenings. We knew the songs and we sang them because we loved them, and we loved the Lord, and we loved each other. We knew who would ask for which hymn, and we were happy when they did.

Mr. Buyse led the choir, too. He was good at it. Somehow he was always prepared, knew his music, and he cued us when our parts came in. I did not realize that this was a rare thing. I thought it was just the way every church choir director would do it. I'm not sure who organized the music in our folders, but it was always there, always right. The things you take for granted when you are a kid... the things you don't realize must happen behind the scenes. We rushed out of Sunday School, down to the choir area where our robes were hung by size--short on the left and long on the right, or maybe the other way around--and we put them on, turquoise blue with a gold edge on the collar piece (we turned those collars over to pure gold for the Christmas cantatas). We warmed up and then filed up the back stairs and into the choir loft where we opened the service with a hymn of gathering in four part harmony.

It was such a beautiful church: solid, quality, big windows all around and stained glass in the back of the sanctuary. There was a little library at the end of that back hall, where I could check out books and read biographies of missionaries to foreign lands and stories of God's faithfulness to persecuted Christians around the world. There was a special, holy-looking little room set apart for the preparation of communion. And the nursery. I remember spending many an hour in the nursery, rocking the church babies and giving them their bottles.

Mr. Buyse and his wife, Marge, were responsible, I think, for the beauty of the church. I think they had a major hand in designing and building it. Mrs. Buyse's father had been the pastor of the church in former years, before his retirement, so she knew all about what a pastor needs in a church facility.

But it wasn't just the building. It was the people. That was a church that functioned like a church. There was a love that went beyond affection that spread among and between those church members. People accepted each other in spite of their imperfections, put up with each other kindly when they didn't really like each other all the time, validated each other's strengths when they didn't share them (and that is unusual, let me tell you). There was forgiveness at First Baptist. It was a forgiveness that demanded repentance, not a, "It doesn't matter how you live, we love you anyway," but a, "We love you and we will welcome you back with open arms and help you in your struggle." There is a fine line of difference there, and it can make people who want their sins validated feel angry, but I think it is the right way to be.

There were the Buyses and the Looks (Mrs. Buyse's original family). There were Wesps, Wicklunds, Hamiltons, Shepherds, Knutsons, Tices, Swansons, Starbucks, Hanks, and who could forget the Christophersons? And then extended families branched off from all of them. Oh, and the Askrens. Pastor Askren was the pastor during what was possibly the golden age of First Baptist. A number of his kids married into the church and stayed around. When I was little, I thought things through and told my mom, "If it had been Mrs. Askren in the garden of Eden instead of Eve, we'd all be in better shape at this point."

It was really, really a church that felt like family. So many of the women taught Sunday school and VBS and worked with the youth group, in the end you felt like you had about seven different moms. We had Easter breakfasts and Harvest dinners and various potlucks in between, and everything went smoothly and the kitchen was beautiful, and there were plenty of sturdy tables and chairs, and we kids would get hopped up on red juice and go running and sliding on the long expanses of waxed tile floor, marking it up so somebody would have to come along and polish it after we were done. All the dads looked like my dad, just under 6 feet tall with a dark suit and a bald spot. More than once I came up behind the wrong guy and grasped his hand. And then there was laughter, because it was a loving place.

Pastors came and went, but Mr. Buyse was always there, leading, organizing, smiling, laughing, singing (and quietly underwriting, but we really weren't supposed to know about that). He was tall and distinguished, and Marge was tall, distinguished and elegant. Even though the main chunk of my conscious history with them was during the 70's, I never saw either of them wear anything that wasn't classic and in perfect taste. Which is really saying something, when you consider the 70's. I had no idea that they were wealthy until much later in life, because they just weren't about that. They dressed beautifully, but not flamboyantly. Everything was restrained and simply right. (It wasn't until I had moved away and then come back for a visit that I realized I felt shabby next to them in my J.C. Penney basics, accessorized with WalMart.)

Marge was my teacher. I don't clearly remember when she taught us. She taught VBS and youth group, and all manner of things, usually in the fireside room, which was a beautiful room with soft carpet and a fireplace and huge picture windows overlooking the woods. I took all this for granted. The Buyses were always tuned in to opportunities to teach. There was one point where they decided the kids my age (they had a son a year older) needed some more teaching. I don't remember if it was Sunday nights, or what, but John and Marge set up a class together and taught us about the Bible and creationism and timelines (I can't remember everything, but it was very interesting). This was in a partitioned off part of the fellowship hall downstairs, and thinking back, trying to remember, I can't imagine what they were doing without L. John upstairs.

Since those days, I have been a part of many Bible studies, first as an attendee and more recently as a teacher myself. Even before I was allowed to teach, things would come out of my mouth, things about God, His character, His grace, the beauty of His law. In discussion, these things would just come out, and people would look at me and say, "How do you know that??" And I sincerely think that much of it was planted there by Marge Buyse, sometimes in a formal teaching session, sometimes in a less formal discussion. She really poured herself into us, and I have been meaning to write her a letter and thank her, for years. But somehow I never seem to have her address, or the words to adequately express my thanks (or maybe the wisdom to know how to edit the many words that clog up inside me wanting to pour out), and I just get overwhelmed and go make dinner instead or something silly like that.

The end of L. John Buyse's mortal life is, as Shawn says, "the signal of the passing of an era." I am profoundly sad, not for John, as he stands in glory, but for us, as we have lost a man who truly loved the Lord, and led strong for the kingdom. In these days of flashing lights and smoke, pounding drums and ramped up electronics, how I long to hear John's clear voice finish a hymn and launch into a gut-wrenchingly authentic chorus of, "He is Lord, He is Lord, He is risen from the dead and He is Lord. Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord."

May God bless the next generation and raise up those who respect and honor those who have gone before us in the faith. We are losing them now. And it is indeed a loss.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

When God hides His face.

My son David has been sick for nearly a year.

He had the flu last December, December 2009. He did recover from that. Last Christmas was the last time he was healthy.

He went to a New Year's party with some friends, and caught something else. He was scheduled to have his wisdom teeth out on January 4, the thought being that he would have the entire month to recover before he had to go back to college where he is pursuing a saxophone performance major along with pre-med. He was sniffling on the way to the surgery. I said, "Maybe we'd better reschedule this." He said, "No, I need to get it over with." He was having pain from his wisdom teeth, so it couldn't be put off indefinitely. He hates to miss school. He hates to get behind in his coursework.

I have kicked myself so many times over this. If only I had been brave enough to tell the oral surgeon that we wanted the procedure done with only local, not general anesthetic, with no tube down DJ's throat, if only, if only, if only...

He got pneumonia. Among other things. He spent the rest of the winter on antibiotics and steroids and albuterol and various maintenance asthma medications. He coughed and coughed and coughed. We medicated him until he was reeling from the medications, and then we tried to pull back and use naturalistic approaches, and nothing worked. Nothing. He has inhaled and nebulized, swallowed pills and drunk liquid vitamins, he has sinus rinsed and nasal sprayed and rubbed essential oils into the soles of his feet. He cut out all sugar and white flour from his diet. He eats protein and vegetables and takes a lunch from home every day because he can't find wholesome enough food on campus. He exercises and usually goes to bed early.

One of his prescriptions was Pulmacort. The doctor thought it would do him more good than his Advair because it can be taken in the nebulizer, so she switched him over. Advair is $187 per month. The Pulmacort was $466. He took it for three or four days, and then broke out in a horrific rash which was probably an allergic reaction, so they discontinued the Pulmacort. Of course, it was not returnable. The rash, however, lasted for three and a half months. Right around the time we were struggling with the Pulmacort, he came down with Bell's Palsy.

Praise Jesus, he did recover from the Bell's Palsy, and he can play his saxophone again.

He didn't get a job this summer; there was too much upheaval in his health at the beginning, and by the time he was stabilized, the jobs were gone. He wanted to volunteer at the hospital, which he needs to do as a pre-med student, but he was still coughing too much, and we were unsure of whether his immunities were strong enough to hold up in a hospital environment.

One week before school started, he got a job through a temp agency, unloading boxes in a warehouse. After two days of it, he was coughing up strings of black stuff. We counseled him to quit the job. He went back to school still coughing.

Through all of this, he has pushed himself to exercise every day except when he is at his very sickest. He has maintained a perfect GPA in school. I honestly do not know how he does it.

Now he is sick again. Sunday night he was having trouble breathing, so he used his nebulizer with albuterol. It made him nauseated and it made his heart pound. He got the chills. He spent the night wrapped tightly in his comforter, feeling his heart race at 130 beats per minute, watching the clock go from 11:00 to 11:30 to 12:00 to 12:30 to 1:00 to 1:30... until he finally fell asleep at about 5:30. He got up at 7:30 and went to college with his sister.

He called home and said he was too nauseated to stay. I picked him up and brought him home. He said he had a feeling like the lump you get in your throat right before you cry, except it went from his throat all the way down into his chest. He had very little appetite. I made him tea and more tea, and bought him Mucinex, hoping it would loosen whatever was in his chest. He took a six hour nap and practiced the piano.

He coughed and coughed. He coughed up stuff that was bright orange. I worked on trying to get him in to see a doctor. Part of the problem is that he is between the pediatrician and finding an adult doctor. Part of the problem is that some of the doctors in the past seemed to hurt more than they helped. Part of the problem is that we have lousy insurance and no doctors want to take him as a new patient.

He came to me last night, his blue eyes pale with exhaustion in his flushed face, and he said, "How long can I take this? I'm tired of this. I've been coughing for almost a year now." It took him this long to express that to me. I have laid in bed so many nights, listening to him coughing and feeling as though I can't take it anymore. And then I feel so ashamed, because he is bearing the brunt of it. He is the one coughing, I only have to listen to it. And I have wondered how he keeps on.

I have prayed and prayed and prayed. I have enlisted friends and family to pray. We have called church leaders to come over and annoint him with oil and pray. I have laid my hands on him and wept and prayed. I have prayed through all hours of the night some nights.

I just want to know where God is. I am so tired. I am so worried. My heart is so heavy. I love my beautiful boy so very, very much, and I can't help him, and God doesn't seem to want to answer our prayers.

I look to scripture for comfort, and I come to passages like Isaiah 45:15, which says, "Truly You are a God who hides Himself, O God and Savior of Israel." This after reading all about His sovereign power. Where is the love? Where is the goodness? Where is the mercy?

God, where are You? Are you tenderhearted and merciful, or aren't You? Are You punishing us for something? I know I am wicked, and I know DJ has wicked tendencies sometimes, but weren't we forgiven in Christ? Don't You promise to work in us through the power of Your Holy Spirit? Are you going to purify us, or are You going to kill us?

God, we need You so badly. You are the only One who understands our bodies and our hearts. We need Your healing power and Your sustaining grace.

Please don't hide Your face from us. Please turn Your face towards us and show us Your goodness and Your lovingkindness.

We need the old priestly blessing from Numbers... "The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace." (Numbers 6:24-26)

God, you have promised never to leave us nor forsake us. Please show us that You are keeping Your promise. Please show us that You are faithful and loving.