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Friday, November 6, 2015
North of Intercourse PA we pass this expansive Amish farm and were treated to some seven horse field work in the foreground. (Click on image to enlarge)
"The Blessing Of Cuddling"
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"And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them" (Mark 10:16). "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms" (Deuteronomy 33:27). "He reached down from on high and took hold of me" (Psalm 18:16).
We made a hospital visit this week at Lancaster General and in the lobby we saw George and Patricia, two friends we haven't seen in a while. In catching up we learned that Pat is training to be a "cuddler" to babies in the neonatal unit at Women and Babies Hospital here in Lancaster. I recall another friend who also has this very interesting form of service for Christ. He regularly visits the Children's Hospital at Hershey Medical Center just to hold the babies.
Through the years Brooksyne and I have taken in a lot of sick kids. We recall people voluntarily visiting children and babies in hospitals where our children received care. What a wonderful way to express the love of Christ! And what a blessing it is for those parents whose children are long-term patients in the hospital.
After our daughter, Ester, arrived from Guatemala at 3 months of age and weighing only 5 pounds, we admitted her to Geisinger Hospital in Danville, PA, 150 miles from our home in St. Marys, PA. She would remain there until she was 7 months old, after numerous heart surgeries and many other critical procedures. To make matters worse she was in isolation which required any in contact with her to wear gown, gloves and mask. A pastor's family voluntarily came in several times a week to cuddle Ester which meant the world to us. She became a special part of their family as well.
To cuddle means to "hold close in one's arms as a way of showing love or affection". Being cuddled is one of the great blessings of life. In prebirth life a baby is cuddled inside the womb. From life's earliest moments after birth babies want to be cuddled which is also a source of thriving.
The deep satisfaction of cuddling does not end when we leave infancy. Cuddling together is a great marital benefit!
I still recall about ten years ago speaking to a woman who had just lost her husband and she very candidly shared how much she already missed cuddling with him.
An Old Testament verse that is somewhat mysterious describes David's time near death. "When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. So his attendants said to him, "Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm" (1 Kings 1:1,2). This is a somewhat strange (awkward) arrangement, at least in our American culture, but it seems this verse validates the value of cuddling in a platonic sort of way. *
Brooksyne shares a sad but touching experience she had several months ago when she visited a pediatric unit for children who have severe, long term, critical health issues, mostly related to drug use by their mothers while they were growing in the womb. I was reading and playing with a child probably three years ago who functioned more like a 1 year old child who just needed some stimulation. I had his full attention as he laughed at just about everything I did with him. Then, out of the perimeter of my left eye, I caught sight of a 6 month baby who was sitting all alone in a "donut" seat and though I couldn't hear any sound I sensed that he was crying. I took a fuller look and realized he was crying furiously but no sound came out because he had a tracheotomy inserted.
I hated to disappoint the little boy I was already entertaining but I just couldn't ignore the crying baby. The nurse saw me, pulled over a rocking chair, and accommodated me by lowering the 6 month old onto my lap. Immediately the baby settled down as he looked at me, and within a minute his scrunched up crying mouth turned into a smile. I'm sure he was cooing, though I couldn't hear him, due to the trach. Unfortunately I had only 15 minutes left but he was so happy for that short period. It was a tender few minutes that just didn't last long enough for him nor for me.
Today's text describes a tender moment in the life of our Lord. "And He took them (the little children) in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them" (Mark 10:16).
In considering today's message I highlight just those words "And He took them in His arms." The description here is very graphic. Our Savior would first embrace the little child, folding him in His arms; then He would lay His right hand upon the child's head, and bless him. Some people have memories and photos of their children being held by a famous person such as a president, famous athlete or entertainer. These children had the unique experience of being physically cuddled by the Lord of the Universe.
The parable of the prodigal son is seen as a picture of our loving heavenly Father awaiting His children to come home. Jesus describes the tender setting of the prodigal's return when He said, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him."
Attempting to apply a physical concept, the blessing of cuddling, to a spiritual concept can be difficult to comprehend but what a wonderful, comforting and reassuring verse is found in Deuteronomy 33:27, "The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms". This verse is most certainly the basis for the well-known hymn "Leaning On The Everlasting Arms".
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Let us thank God for the blessing of cuddling, both the variety of physical human cuddling and the blessedness of being spiritually snug in the everlasting arms of God.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, I want to be Your hand extended to others in need. Help me not to turn the other way or to expect someone else to be Your messenger of compassion and care. I want to seek out those who need a kind touch, an attentive ear, or just another person sitting beside them. May I be sensitive to others in need and may I also be sensitive to Your leading. We also thank you for the blessedness of resting in Your everlasting arms. Amen.
Some Scenes Along Our Way
We have had a beautiful week with clear skies and warm temperatures. People often comment that we sure must travel a lot. Actually most of our photos on Daily Encouragement are taken in the course of our weekly visits to companies throughout the South Central PA area! Today we will share a variety of photos from this week.
A tidy old-order Mennonite farm. This farm even looks tidy on Google map!
(Click on image to enlarge)
This farm had a good value on end of season produce and decorative items such as these small pumpkins at 10 for dollar!
We enjoy seeing the large bales in fields. When we first moved to this area our farmer friend Galen informed us that the round bales had been outlawed. See below for reason.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Recess at an old-order Mennonite school which took us back to our childhood days when all the elementary schools had large swing sets with kids lined up waiting for a turn. Often the older would push the younger child as seen in this photo on the far left swing.
(Click on image to enlarge)
Another view of the school. We seek to be discreet.
Throughout this part of the County (near Martindale) we see lots of corn and tobacco shocks.
(Click on image to enlarge)
One of the most well-known ways of taking in corn is through shocking it. The first step is for the plain farmer to drive his team of horses, pulling a machine called a binder which cuts the cornstalks off close to the ground. The binder then makes bundles of corn which must be gathered by hand and stacked up in a teepee-style pile. Although the cornstalks are now dry, the corn is probably not dry enough to be stored safely. The whole idea is to prevent the corn ears from falling on the ground and absorbing moisture. When the corn is dry, it will be gathered on a wagon and either shucked by hand or run through the corn picker. (Explanation from Corn Harvest in Amish Country)
Brooksyne takes many of these photos as we travel along and decided to take a "selfie" of us as we rode through the country since we had an IPad which makes it a bit fun to take a selfie.
(Click on image to enlarge)
We usually focus on our rural photos but several times a week we drive right through the heart of Lancaster on our way to a company visit, hospital visit, etc.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Hold Me Close" Video Twila Paris
"Safe In The Arms Of Jesus" Video Harvest Celebration A Fanny Crosby hymn
"Safe in the Arms of Jesus" Video Paul Todd
"Good Good Father" Video Chris Tomlin
"Leaning On the Everlasting Arms" Video Gaither Vocal Band and Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
"Leaning On the Everlasting Arms" Video Iris Dement (dedicated to my brother Mike)
Value of cuddling babies
* 1 Kings 1:1-4
Why round bales are outlawed: The cows weren't getting a "square" meal!
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