By Marie Coutu

We made a trip back to western Kentucky recently to finish cleaning out the house following my mother's recent death.

The sense of melancholy was strong as I walked the neighborhood streets for the last time, slept in the house one final time, decided on items to be discarded, and wondered when the next time might be to visit my old hometown.

I only lived in that specific house for my last two years of high school and summers during college. But during the next forty years, as my husband and I moved halfway across the country three times and lived in nine different houses, the knowledge that my parents remained in the same house provided stability, a foundation I could always count on.

I still have a sister and an aunt who live in that town, so I know I'll be back but the visits will be less often and less like going "home."

During my pondering, I turned on the radio and smiled when I heard the old song that was playing--"Ain't Gonna Need This House No Longer."

Mother and Daddy no longer need that house, and neither does anyone else in the family. 

And we know that someday we will join them once again in our heavenly home. That confidence and hope eases the sadness that comes with saying "good-bye" to that earthly home.

By Marie Wells Coutu

While driving to Kentucky for my mother's funeral a few days ago, many memories and thoughts swirled in my head.

She would have been 101 in 30 days. Our family has been blessed to have her with us long as we did. And we are grateful to know that she is now in the arms of Jesus, and with Daddy, who went on ahead of her seven years ago.

My sister said, "I can see Daddy with his lopsided grin saying to her, 'It's about time you got here.'"

For her 100th birthday last year, we held a huge celebration. As a family, we had talked of having another party this year, though on a smaller scale. We even hoped she could be made an honorary member of the 101st Airborne Battalion at nearby Fort Campbell, as her mother had been when she turned 101.

But now, after a slow decline over the past few months and a difficult two weeks, she was no longer with us.

As I drove, I listened to a novel on audio, and one of the characters said, "God's plans don't always make sense to us, but that's when we learn to trust."

As I pondered that, I realized that it not only summed up the current situation, but also the way Mother lived her life. Her faith and the way she raised us reflected Jeremiah 29:11: "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

While our plans were not God's plans for Mother, we know that she has a future with Him. And until we see her again, we trust in God's plans.

by Susan Tuttle

The Lord remembers us and will bless us. Psalm 115:12

I recently read Hannah’s story out of 1 Samuel. She was a barren woman, and I cannot even begin to imagine her pain. In that day and age not bearing children made her an outcast, and though her husband loved her dearly, it was a burden she could not escape. It didn’t help that his other wife, Peninnah, taunted her. Hannah could not escape the sadness of her empty womb, and she made herself sick over it.

Hannah had to wonder where God was. She prayed for a child, and yet year after year she remained childless. Year after year Peninnah reminded her that she had children and Hannah did not. Year after year there remained silence from God.

I think sometimes, in that silence, we stop craving the one thing we desire and begin to crave God’s voice. We want to know he sees us. We want his presence even more than the one thing we are missing. That thing no longer is our idol and our eyes shift to God. Our heart becomes consumed with one thought, “Lord, have you forgotten me?”

Hannah had this moment. Where what she wanted was eclipsed by wanting to know God had not forgotten her. Listen to her prayer:

“Lord Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the LORD for all the days of his life…” (v.11)

See, opening her womb became the sign that she wasn’t forgotten. It was no longer about having a child. No, she simply wanted the assurance that God remembered her. He could have the child, only look on her with favor and show her he hadn’t forgotten her. That mattered more. And God heard her and after what must have felt like an eternity to Hannah, "God remembered her. So in the course of time Hannah became pregnant and gave birth to a son." (vs.19-20)

Beloved, just like Hannah, God sees you. He hears you. His silence does not mean you are forgotten. He’s at work. I cannot promise the answer will be what you want it to be or even when you want it, but I can promise this: he is the God who sees you, El Roi, and he remembers you.

***reposted from my blog, Steps***
By Marie Wells Coutu

A favorite game for many children is to step on someone else's shadow. They like to sneak up, step on the shadow, and run away.

When we know that someone has influenced the lives of many people, we might say she cast a long shadow. Like a child, we may want to touch the shadow of that person, as if something about her would rub off on us.

The thing about shadows, though, is that they are not real. There is no substance that we can feel. A shadow is only an image or representation caused by another object that partially blocks the light.

Shadows always seem bigger than life. Yet without a source of light, no shadow can exist.

Someone pointed out recently that the beloved 23rd Psalm talks about walking through, not the "valley of death," but "the valley of the shadow of death." The distinction, I think, is significant.

Your shadow of death may involve grief over losing a loved one, failure in your marriage or job, or even facing your own mortality. The valley is painful emotionally, but the Bible promises that it is not permanent. Whatever blocks the light will move on and the shadow will pass, eventually.

Sometimes a shadow actually provides protection. On a scorching summer day, we look for the shade where we can be protected from the sun's rays.

God says, "I have... covered you with the shadow of my hand” (Isaiah 51:16, NIV). Even the shadow of His hand is enough to protect us from evil, fear, or worry if we seek the shelter He offers.

As Christians, we seek to walk in God’s Light. When we are afraid or upset, we can find comfort and rest in the shadow of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Allow His shadow to pass over you today and receive His healing comfort.