Only in God

The Lover and the Beloved

This is Love


The wind passes through the world
It travels over seas, rivers and deserts
So strong that it laughs as it crosses high mountains
Says to mighty rivers: I cross over your swift waves
Without going under

In a field stood a red rose
Its fragrance attracted the wind
The red petals shine in the bright light of the day
Even glow up at night in a full moon
When all are sleep and silence covers all
The red rose’ beauty can’t sleep
Its fragrance goes every where
In cold days and in hot long summer nights
The nightingales can smell this unique fragrance
And sing even more to the beauty and to the quietness of the night

The wind passed as always
It saw this red rose
It reduced its speed
Stood to watch

The beauty and the fragrance were so strong
The wind pulled its wings and tacked them in
The wind became a gentle breath
Round the red rose it moved
The red rose danced
It is no longer might that brings joy
But beauty changes wind into a fresh breath of air

So prudent the wind became
It took some drops from a cloud high and far
And put gently a drop on each petal
Like silver nickels round the red rose
Each drop reflected the bright light of the sun
The wind became intoxicated
The wind started to join the red rose in its dance

This love was new to both
The mighty fall in love with beauty
The beautiful fall in love with the fresh breath
Neither wanted to leave the other alone
Mountains and rivers, deserts and snow
Fields and rocks
The wind cared not

The red rose loved that unusual friend
The gift of the silver nickels was great
Don’t leave
Both said the same words spontaneously

The wind is no longer wind if it does not move
The red rose will die if it is moved
Two problems that love must solve

The wind gathered its force
Unblocked the red rose
It took it by force that the delicate one
Nearly died
I need water, the red rose shouted
The sky is full of water
If I drive one cloud to a mountain
I can milk its water for a field
Not just for you one red rose

The wind carried the red rose
Over many countries and in places
Where even the summer dreams
Can’t be borne
That long lovely journey
Nearly killed the red rose
Soil I need
Shouted the red rose
Wind is not where I grow

Soon the wind snatched some soil
Ministered them for the beloved
But soon something started to wither
Where are the songs of the birds?
Where are the fellow red roses?
The green grass of the fields
Gives a certain brightness to my petals
My roots are not deep enough
I need mother earth to stay alive

Can we let go of love that kills?
Can this love sustain both the wind and a red rose?
Put me back to where I belong
Said the red rose
Go where you belong
You are a wind
Your love is good if it remains just breath
Love me as a red rose rooted in the earth
I will love you as humble breath

George Littlelight
Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It IS Amazing Grace

heavenAs I reflect on the recent deaths of my mother and father, I am reminded that I am NOT an orphan…for all people who believe upon Jesus Christ and His claims to His identity and purpose as the great I Am, God Incarnate,  have been adopted into the family of God.  I pray that the rest of my life will honor Him and reflect something of the love of the Father.  May many others come to likewise know of the Father heart of God through the sacrifice of the living Son of God and the continuing power and presence of the Holy Spirit.


  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.    John 3:16

Marvin Grover Tobin
September 22, 1922 – December 27, 2007
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

Joanne Elizabeth Waines Tobin
October 16, 1926 – September 15, 2009
“The things which are seen are temporal but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

In Memoriam

“Amazing Grace” performed by Il Divo at the Roman Coliseum (the very place where Christians were once martyred for their faith).

Marvin and Joanne Tobin Memorial Fund – Operation Blessing

The End of a Season

Mom and DadOur lives are so fragile..so temporal…so seemingly insignificant as we march toward our own dying days.  Yet in God’s kingdom, our lives (and deaths) are significant to His ends.  If every hair is numbered, every thought is counted, there really is nothing insignificant about our little lives.

My mother died on September 15th…just over three weeks ago now.   I can hardly believe that I have lost both my beloved parents in just under two years.  Death stops for no one.

Joanne Elizabeth Waines Tobin came into this world on October 16, 1926 as the third child of Aaron and Edith Waines.   She had a spark of the ornery right from the start.  Her childhood photos look like something out of the old 1930’s  “Our Gang” movie shorts.  She was a prangster and a “tomboy.”  As an adult, she was a much loved woman who invested good things in her children and the people around her.  I am so very thankful that she was my mother.

In many ways, my mother (and my father) lived sacrificial lifestyles so that we, their children, would have so much more in our lives.  We were middle class … maybe even lower middle class at times.  Yet Mom always made sure that her kids had opportunities for education, for desired activities, and even the little niceties— regardless of whether it meant denying herself of the things that she truly desired.  I remember in my late 20’s, being reduced to tears, as I surveyed my mother’s meager wardrobe and realized that she had purchased no new clothing in perhaps ten years.

As a youngster, Mom had a deep abiding spirituality and a hunger to know God.  She was not nor could not be “religious” …in part because she came from a most unchurched home and had lived a bit of a worldly path in her early years.  But she had a thirst and a hunger for God that contained an unvarnished purity.   She walked as a young child  to church–neither encouraged nor discouraged by her family.   When she was young, she was inclined to steal a crucifix in her “search for intimacy”  with God.    In her later years, (with a bit more maturity), she read the Bible and filled the house with marvelous Christian books by classic authors.  I’m not sure that she found God…it seemed that He found her.

When we moved into a new house when I was a teenager, Mom wanted it dedicated in some fashion.  A man was commissioned to come and carve on the fireplace mantelpiece “God is Our Refuge.”    I think it was an open invitation for the Lord to abide within.

Despite Mom’s serious side, she was a character…her humor and shenanigans proved almost legendary in our family.  Even at my father’s funeral last year, which Mom was not able to attend because of her condition, my aunt walked into the funeral home and burst out with a few juicy stories of my mother’s college escapades i.e.….”Your mother stole a police car!….” (Actually it was a campus security squad car that she took for a joy ride—right in front of the security guard).

We will always laugh at those stories of old…tying sheets together and throwing them out the top of the chapel so they hung down making a lovely drape like effect, hiding desk chairs and scattering blankets and ash trays in a classroom, writing on the blackboard “To conform or not to conform…that is the question…”

Mom was an actress through and through…a career she supposedly aspired to…until her proper British father put a proper end to such improper thinking.   A career path toward nursing apparently was a more acceptable solution.

Unfortunately before she could realize that goal, she had one great “flunk-out” from Case Western Reserve University – a school her father had chosen for her.  She solved her college dilemma quite capably.  When she discovered that most of the other students had been to prep schools and knew Chaucer “and all I knew were nursery rhymes” she quit going to classes and went to the matinees instead to watch Bette Davis et al. It worked for awhile…at least until her father discovered her GPA.   (She later completed a bachelor’s in nursing at the University of Cincinnati).

However, Mom never stopped being an actress and humorist for our family.  She would recite bad poetry until we would be shrieking with laughter.  I will always treasure my memories of  Radish So Red (from the “Reluctant Dragon”) and the impressive sounding belch that she would make at the end of the recitation.

Even as an invalid in her last three years, robbed of much of her speech, she could still remember some of these crazy monologues.  Several years ago, I found an online mp3 of the original version of the 1930’s British “The Biggest Aspidistra in the World.” The Biggest Aspidistra in the World. I played it for her in her hospital bed…and she began mouthing along with all of the words.  It seemed to me that my mother’s version was so much better than the original.

Together, my parents made quite a pair.  They were not the perfect couple, we were not the perfect family.  But it was good.

When my brother graduated from High School, one of his friends had a bad LSD experience at his graduation party that landed him in the hospital.  When my mother heard about it, she decided that something had to be done for the youth in our area.  She invited a pastor, who had a powerful youth ministry, to start holding weekly Bible studies in our home.  Mom lured the kids with food every week and between herself and the pastor, the most eclectic bunch of kids would show up at the house every week—an event that went on for three years.

I’m still reminded of those days when long haired, disengaged youth would sit quietly with my mother and my father (who would come in from the fields) to learn more about the Bible for the first real time in their (and our) lives.  I smile when I realize that several of those misfit youth changed their life directions and became pastors.  I think this is part of my mother’s legacy.

But that is not her only legacy.  There are not enough words to write about what she meant to so many people.  There are not enough words to write about what she meant to her children.

I want to remember her as she lived—full of liveliness and fun:  the way she was one Christmas, when she suddenly coaxed Cheryl to put on some music and the two of them launched into their own special version of  “The Macarena.” ( I can’t believe someone had the presence of mind to snap these pictures).

The Macarena

I want to remember her love of God and family.  I want to remember the good times.

But I have to acknowledge that there were bad times….especially as she became an invalid in these last years.  Yet she always smiled….  Perhaps there was something of the strength of God there.

The three daughters were present at her death.  It seemed only fitting since the son was present at our father’s death.

Immediately after her death, I stepped out of the room with Karen,  as the aides and Cheryl fixed the body.   When I came back in, the presence of the Lord was there.  Cheryl was sitting beside Mom and was on her cell phone.  It seemed that someone from those old Bible study days had suddenly called, only to discover that Mom had just died.  He was praying on the phone with Cheryl—almost like he was pronouncing a benediction for Mom’s life.

Celtic worship music was playing all afternoon in the background.  Cheryl said that Mom died to “Be Thou My Vision.” Perhaps it is a good song to live to as well.

I had always thought it interesting that our father died at the end of a year, the end of a season, and was buried on New Year’s Eve (2007) – the last day of the old year.  I wondered throughout this past summer if my mother might do something similar.  It seemed that she did.  After we made arrangements for her funeral for the afternoon of Friday the 18th,  I received an email from a Christian organization that mentioned that Rosh Hashana –the  Jewish New Year would begin at sundown on that date.   Mom closed her life at the end of a year just as our father had.  It seemed almost a prophetic reminder to me that a season had ended.

Yet in God’s eyes, a season has just begun.

We will always love you Mom and will rejoice when we are reunited again.

Picture of the rainbow (at the end of the video) was taken by Mom outside Memorial Dorm around 1953.

A Daughter’s Remembrances

Originally posted on 1-26-08 at http://www.marriagesupperofthelamb.blogspot.com

My father died three days after Christmas and was buried on New Year’s Eve. That is my harsh reality. I suppose that one can only find out what his or her experience of a parent’s death will be like once the event actually occurs. There just isn’t a good way to pre-plan the emotional experience of death. But still,  I suspect we all have wondered how our lives might go on when our loved one is taken. Yet sometimes even the imagination of the loss is just too hard to bear.

Dad was a much loved man. That fact was clearly made known to me at his funeral. People from all realms of his life came forward to offer condolences. One silver-haired lady walked up to me with an almost tangible presence of spiritual authority: “The world is a poorer place for loss of your father….but you must know that he is enjoying all the fullness of everything he ever hoped for…”

I was not there when my father died. I was grateful that my brother was present. For several months during Dad’s illness, I had been tearing up the road to Columbus, Ohio …as had my other family members. That morning everything changed. Tom called me and quietly told me the news. I sat on the couch and wept.

Tom also called Karen back in Pittsburgh. When she finally got ahold of her husband, his reaction betrayed what we were all feeling. “Oh my God, Oh my God,” Bill had exclaimed. When she tried to comfort him, his only reply was “Yes, but I loved that guy.”

Dad was a country boy from start to finish. He was a farmer as was his father as was his father and so on. And though he worked in a factory as a quality control coordinator, it was the farm that held his attention. I remember our mother once describing Dad’s connectedness with the earth as a sort of spiritual matter. I think we were always mesmerized by his enthusiasm for his crops. Even in his 85th year, he quite natuarally had to put in a garden. The Tobin household without a garden is just not the Tobin household. You’ve gotta love that swiss chard.

At the funeral home, I laughed as people told me of the fame of my father’s musk melons. Dad’s melons were the best in the county…and it appears everybody knew it. It was hard for me to believe that people drove many many miles to get Grover Tobin’s melons. I remember visiting once and surveying their property. Dozens of round little melons laid out neatly in their rows seemed to never end. Mom complained (tongue-in cheek) that the esthetic quality of the homefront view left something to be desired: “It looks like he put human heads all around the house….

That was not the first time, my mother wondered aloud at Dad’s farming practices. He was organic… when organic wasn’t cool. And he was a bit of an inventor as he strove to create natural energy power sources for the home and farm. He built the “hasa” which ended up heating our home fueled by wood burning and channeled underground with hot water pipes to the house.

As I visited them as a young adult, the funny stories continued. I remember my mother had not been able to find her new Panasonic radio-tape player. Early the next morning, in the still of the darkness, she happened to step outside and hear something. Making her way to the fence post, she discovered her tape player—it was playing sitar music to Dad’s tomato plants. George Harrison would have been proud.

My brother-in-law has a great memory of Dad. One summer day, Bill and Dad walked down to the old farmhouse…perhaps 500 yards away to get some wooden buckets filled with wooden chips to be placed around the evergreens back at the home in the orchard. As Dad picked up the heavy buckets and turned to walk back to the house, Bill inquired, “Sam, can I help you with that?” Dad looked at him quizzically and said, “Are you sure? They’re kind of heavy.” He would have been 82 at the time.

Last year after the death of my uncle Frank, my uncle Ozzie, now with Parkinson’s disease, drove up from Columbus to see Dad. Perhaps as a way of rekindling some of their reckless youthful ways, (i.e. Ozzie once crashed his plane coming off the runway which Dad built for him on the farm), they went to a gun shop and bought an AK47……whereupon they came back to the farm and proceeded to shoot the thing off in the woods. The mental picture of two old guys shooting off an automatic weapon in the woods continues to bring a chuckle to my heart. When Dad told me about the event, it was evident that he didn’t understand what had brought me to near hysterics in laughter.

Dad had a simple faith and always believed in miracles. Karen’s recovery after a near fatal accident in the 1970’s was buoyed by my Dad’s faith in a “word of knowledge” for her healing. She did make a full recovery (healing) contrary to the doctor’s reports.

My brother recently recalled those tumultuous days in our family. The night of Karen’s accident in 1977, as she lay far away in a hospital, Dad took his two teenagers, Tom and Cheryl, and knelt at Karen’s bedside at the house and asked that her life be spared. Today, Karen herself is a doctor.

This past Thanksgiving, almost 30 years to the day of Karen’s accident, my brother Tom and sister Cheryl oddly enough found themselves alone in the same house where they had prayed 30 years before. Together, they this time knelt at Dad’s bedside as they prayed for God’s mercy in our father’s situation. I think that prayer was answered.

It was three hours after Dad’s death, that I found myself driving through a fast food restaurant. The presence of the Holy Spirit, as referenced by that tangible electricity, began to fill the car. “Your Dad says ‘hi’.. but he doesn’t want to come back….”

I smiled at the thought.

In his last month, my Dad became quite emaciated and could no longer take in nourishment of any kind. On Christmas Eve at the hotel where I was staying, I went before the Lord and prayed for help…an answer, a miracle. I waited for the presence of the Lord to come, and then opened my Bible.

This is what I read:

“Man is also chastened with pain on his bed, and with strong pain in many of his bones. So that his life abhors bread and his soul succulent food.

His flesh wastes away from sight and his bones stick out which once were not seen.

Yes, his soul draws near to the Pit and his life to the executioners.

If there is a messenger for him, a mediator, one among a thousand to show man His uprightness,

Then He is gracious to him, and says, ‘Deliver him from going down to the Pit; I have found a ransom.’His flesh shall be young like a child’s. He shall return to the days of his youth.

He shall pray to God and He will delight in him. He shall see His face with joy for He restores to man His righteousness.

And he looks at men and says, ‘I have sinned, and perverted what was right. And it did not profit me.’

He will redeem his soul from going down to the Pit, and his life shall see the light.

Behold God works all these things. Twice in fact, three times with a man.

To bring back his soul from the Pit, that he may be enlightened with the light of life.”

Job 23: 19-30

———————————————————————

It was Christmas Day at the hospital, when I found myself riding the elevator downstairs to the cafeteria. I turned to the gentleman riding the elevator with me and mustered a weak “Merry Christmas.” He began to cry.

“Yes, some Christmas,” he said; “My mother just died.” I nodded and told him my father was probably to die in a few days.

“You know, I thought about it,” he continued through his tears. “What better day to die on than the Lord’s Day?”

Indeed.

I was most blessed in being allowed to have such a man as this as my father. I last saw him on the day after Christmas. He was alert and I was able to tell him many things. I told him that he had a good legacy in the earth and that I loved him very much. And then I said goodbye.

As I survey the emotions of these past few months, I am reminded of God’s promise to “never leave us nor forsake us” despite the circumstances we encounter. As a family, we cannot help but be reminded that our mother, who is currently receiving hospice care, is also not long for this world. Soon she will be making her way to stand with our father.

In spite of the grief, there is an odd type of peace that continues to linger. At the casket, Dr Karen burst into tears and said, “It really is just a shell, you know.” Clinical words indeed.

I remembered an old family tradition in that moment. Whenever we gathered together at the old homestead for holidays, the moments of departure always contained a little sadness. It was our custom, as each one departed for his or her long journey home, to stand in a circle and pray for safety for the traveler. As in days gone by, we once again stood in a little circle beside the mortal remains of our father. Only this time, we did not pray for a safe trip. We thanked God for already giving him safe passage.

May God love and keep you Dad, until we see you again.

Originally posted on 1-26-08 at http://www.marriagesupperofthelamb.blogspot.com

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