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

Alice’s brother John wanted her to stay with them in Michigan. During the month of sick leave, she was there. It was a pleasant time for Alice—especially because she could “spoil” he niece Janis, now two years old, whom she adored. But is also became clearly evident to the family that Alice would not be able to return to work. Her legs and arms were becoming increasingly weak. Though she could still drive her car, she was able to do very little else—needing constant assistance even to dress.

Good Morning Alice: 

I’m sure at one time or other you must have studied or really looked into the book of Hosea. I always thought this was a book I’d never understand, but after a study of it, and a sermon on a passage out of it, I think I’m starting to scratch the surface of its meaning. 

The verse I asked you to read yesterday is full of comfort for God’s people. 

Jehovah will betroth us unto Him forever. He will make us His bride. There will be, in that glorious day, a bond in which we will forever know and experience God’s righteousness, judgment, lovingkindness, and His mercies. 

In faithfulness He will take us to be His bride and we will know Him. We will forever, without sin, know the blessedness of that bond. Because of His unbelievable mercy, He will forever call us His people and, free from sin, we will forever respond, “Oh, my God!” Nothing should hold us back from desiring to experience that bond. 

In His Love, Your friend 

Please read

Galatians 5:22-25

Brother John and his wife Judy took Alice back to Illinois at the end of the month. John would arrange for another sick leave—this one for six months. Alice agreed to this, but with the thought that she might still be able to go back again. Some of Alice’s possessions would be taken back to Grand Rapids. At Stauffer, there was great understanding of the situation—and a measure of relief. Those in the office knew that Alice could not properly do her work any more, even when she had been there a month earlier. But no one wanted to tell her not to return. The people in the office and factory who knew Alice, were very kind to her. Several times they collected sizable cash gifts, and a number of them came on various occasions to visit her. Alice’s eyes would always light up at the mention of Stauffers.

Good Morning, Alice: 

I am sitting at my kitchen table looking out at the snow—finally. I’ve always liked snow; there’s something cozy about it. I know it makes lots of things a little more difficult, but it is beautiful! 

The fruit of the Spirit—what a list of difficult things the child of God is called to have. Yes, I know I am Christ’s. I know His Spirit lives within me, and because I know this, the verse tells me the answer to the difficulty. 

Since I am Christ’s, I can crucify my fleshly desires, my pride, my doubts, my impatience (which I’ve already told you I have a love of) and my frustrations (raising children is not without frustrations!). I’m sure the list is different for you, Alice, but why can we crucify these sins? Because we are Christ’s, because we do have the Spirit in our hearts. 

It will do us both good, Alice, to keep that list in our minds this day; pick up this note or the Bible, and ask ourselves, do I love, do I have joy? Do I have peace? Am I longsuffering (patient)? Am I gentle (kind)? Do I have goodness? And do I have faith?

If we live in the Spirit, we will be able to “walk” by the Spirit, and look more and more forward to the day that we no longer have to battle our flesh to do these things, but live in perfection with our great God. 

In His Love, Your friend

Please read

Ps. 62:5-8

Little imagining the strain that would later be placed on his own family, brother John insisted that Alice should stay with them. At the end of November, it became plain even to Alice that she could not return to work again. The apartment in Illinois was given up and all of Alice’s possessions were taken to Michigan. And there was much of this—boxes and boxes of saved mementos and knickknacks as well as much household furnishings. John, who had recently built a new home, would convert the attached garage next to the kitchen into a bedroom and sitting room for Alice.

Dear Alice: 

Good morning! Oh Alice, you’re going to laugh at me this morning! 

You know yesterday I mentioned we should try to examine ourselves: Do I love, Do I have patience, etc. Well, later that morning I went shopping with the kids and I very carefully told them, “Go to the bathroom before you get your coats on because we’ll be gone for a while.” Well, we got halfway down the driveway, and my little one said, “I have to go bathroom.” I started hollering, “WHY DIDN’T YOU. . . ?” And then I had to laugh at myself—where was my patience? I drove back in the garage and took him in, laughing to myself and thinking, “I have to tell Alice!” 

How did your self-examination go, Alice? 

Ps. 62:5-8

is a real comfort after searching your soul, after looking back at all the times I failed yesterday when I was impatient with my little ones, when I was frustrated because my son didn’t do something the way I wanted it done, when I failed time and time again, and all those times I didn’t even know about—I can look to Him Who is my refuge and pour out my heart before Him. I can know that my strength is not in myself but that He is my rock, my salvation, my defense and my strength and refuge. I can lay the heavy burdens of my heart and mind on Him. 

I can wait on Him and, yes, expect (because of His promises) comfort from Him.

What relief—what blessed warm “inner” joy! 

With Love, Your friend 

Please read:

I Cor. 15:58

John did a remarkable job of converting that two-stall garage into living quarters. A third of it was partitioned off as bedroom. Paneling was placed in front of the garage-doors. Carpeting was placed on the floor. The sitting room area was filled with all the paraphernalia Alice had collected over the past thirty years. Everything looked nice—if a bit cluttered.

Good Morning Alice: 

It’s going to be another busy Saturday, so I’m writing early. 

You may have wondered about these note cards. I like them and I hope you do too. The artist is Gwen Frostic. She has a little shop up north, way out in the wild. She is a naturalist, and lectures about the balance of nature, etc., but the sad part is that she is not a child of God. One knows that by the books she writes. She may see beauty with her eye, but she doesn’t know the beauty of God’s grace. 

How thankful we can be, Alice, that God has shed His grace in our hearts. That is certainly all that makes life worthwhile. All of our labors, our struggle in this life is not in vain before God, because God is working in us. He gives us the glorious victory, which is explained in the verses before this one, but we are called to be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Now I may be wrong, but to me, “the work of the Lord” is our daily walk of obedience. We must be unmovable from His law. Like a minister once said, “In everything you do, you must ask yourself, ‘Is the blessing of the Lord upon this?'” What a question! 

When we plan our activities for the day, we must ask it. When we turn the radio on, we must ask it. Or when we choose a book to read or a T.V. program to watch we ask it. The list goes on and on. 

In accepting a trial, or (probably more difficult) in living an “easy” life, yes, in everything we do, we must ask if the blessing of the Lord is upon this. What a calling we have—but what a victory—oh, what a victory! 

With Love, Your friend 

Please read

Ps. 145:18

One of the first things Alice wanted to do, after settling in with John and Judy, was to buy a china cabinet. Shortly after she began working upon graduation from high school, she had purchased a beautiful set of china from Germany. It was packed in the original boxes for all these years—with the hope of using them on special occasions after she would marry. But that time never came. Now she would have the dishes properly displayed in that beautiful china cabinet where she could admire them in Judy’s kitchen. There they remain still to this day.

Good Morning Alice: 

Did you get my note yesterday or did you get two today? I’m sorry. I’ll try not to let that happen again, (if you knew me, you’d be surprised it didn’t happen before!) and it was ready by 8 o’clock Saturday morning too yet!! 

I’m really glad I’m writing you every day. It’s not just for you, but equally for me. This morning there’s so much to do, I probably wouldn’t have picked up my Bible this morning. Have you had that, where you think you have to do other things so you put aside the most important thing: time alone with God? 

Ps. 145:18

explains just how much of a blessing that time alone with God is. Our Lord is near unto us that call upon Him. Does that mean that when we forget about Him, He isn’t near? No; God is near His children regardless, but we experience His love and care when we draw near to Him. But the verse adds “in truth.” That is sort of a warning to me anyway. It happens all too often that I get into reading scripture and suddenly I realize I’m either not really calling upon Him, or I’m not using scripture for its proper meaning. 

But, the Lord is near unto His children that call upon Him in truth. 

May you richly experience that nearness this day.

With Love, Your friend 

Please read

Eph. 6:17-18