You Give and Take Away

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

Yesterday at church, as I sang these familiar lines from Matt Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name” worship song, I began to bawl. And it reminded me of another time the same song brought me to tears.

You see, I’m not good at letting go. But the thing that really struck me yesterday was the truth of the message “you give and take away.”

I was given a mother who loved me. She taught me to love Jesus. Really, the most important lesson I ever understood. Three years ago at this time, she was fading away…away from me but toward Jesus. My days were filled with visits to the nursing home, calls with her hospice team, decisions (hard, hard decisions), and awareness…awareness of the inevitable. One of those September weekends these words rang out on Sunday morning:

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

And I cried. The Lord took my mom away at the end of September. “Lord, blessed be your name.”

My mom always told me she prayed for my future husband. That he would be an honorable Christian man who would love me and be faithful in all his responsibilities. She wished for me happiness in marriage that always seemed to allude her. I was 34 when my mom passed away and had cynically given up hope of ever finding such a husband.

A little over a year later I attended a class on repairing historic plaster and lo and behold, there he was.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

I recognized a good thing when I saw him. And I had confidence in my mom’s faithful prayers over many years that I would have happiness in a marriage that would honor the Lord. We married just seven months after meeting. “Lord, blessed be your name.”

Growing up, my family moved a lot, first from Indiana to Arizona, then many moves within the greater Phoenix area. For a short time while I was in elementary school we owned a house that I lived in for five years. But mostly we rented: mobile homes, apartments, houses. Then I went to college and moved from Arizona to Oklahoma, dorm to dorm, then apartments, and another move from Oklahoma to Indiana for grad school. Finally, ten years ago I bought a house, a sure provision from the Lord. It was my house and I could finally stay put. And stay put I did for nearly a decade until I met my husband.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

I’m a sentimental person anyway, but being a preservationist I have even a greater attachment to places. Yesterday’s cry was inspired by the goodbye I have to say to my house this week because we have found a buyer and are closing in a few days.

Yesterday I was scrubbing the bathtub, vacuuming the floors, and trying to leave my home in a nice condition for its new owner. I was in what had been my mom’s room and thought of the early mornings, trying to rouse her from sleep to check her blood sugar level before I rushed off to work.

I closed the door and saw scratches in the woodwork. Scratches that had angered me when my new puppy tried so desperately to get out of the prison I had left him alone in while I worked before I knew his temperament–the house had stood 80 years and leave it to my puppy to mess up the woodwork! Now those scratches have a nice patina, which I rubbed my fingers across, remembering my sweet Simon when he was a pup. How thankful I am to still have him with me.

You give and take away
You give and take away
My heart will choose to say
Lord, blessed be Your name

1-photo-2

The sweet markings of a confined puppy.

Our hard work paid off with the relatively quick sale of my house…others in my neighborhood sat on the market for over a year with no offers; ours sold after six weeks. Unloading the house will provide some financial relief, some rest (traveling 2 hours each direction once a week to work laboriously on a house is tiring!), and the ability to focus on restoring the 1900 Queen Anne house we wish to move in to. “Lord, blessed be your name.”

Blessed be Your name
When the sun’s shining down on me
When the world’s ‘all as it should be’
Blessed be Your name

Blessed be Your name
On the road marked with suffering
Though there’s pain in the offering
Blessed be Your name

I’m so thankful for the gifts while they last and for the memories when the Lord takes those gifts away.

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