Gise J. Van Baren is pastor of the Protestant Reformed Church of Hudsonville, Michigan.

Every Christmas, Alice made a great deal of giving presents to her nieces and nephews of high school age and younger. When she was well, she found pleasure in shopping for each present—and watching later the reaction of each child who received it. This last Christmas that Alice was with us, she would also give presents—but the parents were instructed by her to buy presents for their own children with money she provided. The children must be told that the present was from Aunt Alice.

The family Christmas party was held at John’s house so that Alice could enjoy this in the comfort of her own bed. She couldn’t talk, of course, but how her eyes would light up in observing the reaction of the children to the presents they received—and she herself smiled joyfully at presents she also received (though most of them she perhaps could never use). The thought came to mind too: would Alice be here on another Christmas to celebrate it with us?

Good Morning Alice: 

Yesterday I looked through the verses we have shared together and I was really surprised that I’ve not shared my thoughts on

Ps. 46:10

a. It has always been a very favorite verse and although I now have many more, thanks to these notes, this one will always mean a lot to me. I guess that’s because it’s something very necessary for me. It’s like I always know God is God, and I know He controls all things, but with all the world around me, and in my sinful flesh, I get too busy and just don’t acknowledge it—don’t think on it, and thus I do not experience the joy and comfort and strength that that knowledge brings.

The Psalm begins: God is our Refuge and Strength, a very present help in trouble. But, if we don’t acknowledge that and have it consciously before our minds, if we aren’t still, we will not experience that help. 

So I have to tell myself: “Be still”; erase all other thoughts from my mind, and desires from my heart, and know and experience that God is God and then I know that refuge and strength and comfort. 

In His love, Your friend 

Please read

Phil. 4:6-7

Alice spent most of her time, during the last months of her illness, in bed. This is how we saw her so very often. We realized that this was part of the inevitable progression of her disease. We failed to realize at that time how deeply all of this impressed itself upon the minds of the little nieces and nephews who saw her. Alice and her bed seemed to be part of the “normal”. Later, at the funeral home, little niece Janis, who so often had run into her room to awaken her, asked, “But where is Auntie Alice’s bed?”

Good Morning Alice: 

Some years ago I heard sermons on these verses and I really benefited from them. There are so many wonderful words of instruction and encouragement here. 

Be careful for nothing; careful here means: anxious. We are not to be anxious or to worry about anything. I do that all too often. Usually it’s worrying about the teenage kids or about not getting things done as I should and so many things. 

I know everyone gets upset over different things—some about money; some about illness; but we may not! 

The verse does not say try not to fret about your life or things that happen to you; it says “Be careful for nothing.” Do not worry. Give it all over to the Lord. It sounds impossible, and humanly speaking, it is. But we are told it is possible. We are to turn everything over to God. That doesn’t mean just big things. That means if my son is late in getting home, I can—no—I must bring it to God in prayer, and know He is in control.

If I just can’t accept some thing God has placed in my life, I must continually bring it to Him in prayer and again know that He is in control. I must make everything known to Him and He will give me the peace to know that whatever His answer is, it is best for me. This isn’t easy to learn, but I’m trying to learn it. 

I know that as I do give everything over to Him, He will guard my heart and my mind and give me peace, a peace that I cannot understand, and yet I know it’s there. 

Strive with me, Alice, to give every worry, every problem, every rebellious thought, every “why” over to God in prayer. 

And in as much as we do that, we will experience that un-understandable, wonderful warm and comforting peace of God filling our hearts. 

In His love, Your friend

Please read

Psalm 27:1

Through this difficult period, the relatives tried to keep Alice as comfortable as possible. With bedridden patients, bed sores are often a problem. Alice had the added difficulty of being unable to move herself—not even an inch now. She could feel everything. She would quickly become sore by lying in one position for any length of time. One big improvement for Alice was the purchase of a thin air mattress with an attached air pump. Air would be forced through different sections of this mattress so that there was constant change of pressure on the contact points of her back. Little waves of air constantly rippled along her back. Again, Alice at first insisted that this mattress was completely unnecessary—though she soon came to appreciate it greatly. It helped to prevent the bed sores and did relieve the soreness of lying in one position for long times, especially through the long night.

Good Morning Alice: 

What a beautiful sunny morning. 

And what a beautiful text. 


without Him all is darkness. 


without Him I would be lost forever. 


I am His, I am saved; no one can do anything to take that away. 


I am weak, but in His love, I am strong. My life without Him is only failure—with Him is strength and life itself 


Who or what can harm me when I am His? Whatever comes into my life, I am safe in His care. 

Think today of what that light, salvation, and strength means in your life, Alice. 

With love, Your friend

Please read

Ps. 27:13-14

One of the last of the family anniversaries Alice joined in celebrating was the 25th wedding anniversary of brother Gise and his wife Claire (on Feb. 1). Alice came to their home with the other relatives. Though she could not move, she was still able to sit in her wheelchair for short periods of time. We could see that she was uncomfortable in the chair now, though she was not ready to admit it. Much of the evening was spent putting pillows, first under one leg, then under the other. Still, she managed to stay for several hours, and apparently enjoyed herself, too.

Good Morning Alice: 

You know Alice, with these notes I’ve sent, I’m sure I’ve repeated myself many times already. I know I’ve talked about heaven when someone near to me died; but these verses are so wonderful, I know they will encourage you as they do me. 

What would this life be, if we didn’t have the hope of seeing our Lord in the land of the living? 

Can you imagine the emptiness, the horror of life, if we didn’t know what awaited us at death? 

These verses should really be memorized! 

I would “faint” if I didn’t believe that my death will be my beginning. The beginning of my real living—without sin and suffering and doubt, and with my Savior forever. 

That’s why I can wait on the Lord and be of good courage, and as I do, He strengthens me more and more to know Him and wait on Him. Not just for Him—for His return in my life, but wait on Him, leaning on Him for all my strength and hope. 

In Him for Whom we wait, Your friend 

Please read

Psalm 149:4

Literally hundreds of letters and cards had come to Alice by now. Each one she cherished, and many had to be pinned to the bulletin board for a time. Every one of them had to be read and saved. How she enjoyed too the continuing visits from relatives and friends—many of these traveled from Illinois to see her. Many did favors for her—one finished an intricate piece of needle work for her, a sailing ship, which hangs still on the wall at John’s house. It was truly communion of saints expressed in a visible way.

Good Morning Alice: 

Once in a while I find that yesterday’s verse meant so much that it’s hard to find one to follow it. After thinking so much on dwelling in the land of the living, what more can we want? But we still have the rest of our lives to live here, and all of Scripture is our guide and our comfort. 

Today’s verse is another one that a sinner can hardly understand. How can I, looking at even one day, or one hour, of my life, understand how God can take pleasure in me? Only through the shed blood of our Savior can God take pleasure in us. 

And not only that, but He beautifies the meek with salvation. Now I am by no means a “meek” person, but I know that this meekness means a repentant humble spirit towards God and through Christ. I do have that. 

And then, knowing these truths, and remembering them, I can, as verse five says—be joyful in glory and sing aloud! And so can you, Alice, for even when others can no longer hear your singing, God can and does, and will continue to beautify you with salvation. 

With love, Your friend 

Please read

Jeremiah 29:13