Saturday, July 25, 2015

Celebrating a New Baby and Birthdays

Even though my nephew, Andrew, and his wife, Melissa. were not able to be at the beach this summer, they were very much a part of our hearts, thoughts, and prayers.  On Tuesday morning the call came that they were headed to the hospital to welcome the birth of their daughter.  There continues to be much rejoicing over the arrival of precious Lena.  What a blessed addition to our family.


 

On Thursday we celebrated the birthdays of two special gifts to our family.  Although their birthdays are the first part of August, we have the party at the beach since so many of the family can be together.  Our grandson, David, will soon be five years old. I am so thankful for his life and special place in our hearts, and also for the life and legacy of his father, who passed away before he was born.  He is Chad’s chosen son of the heart through adoption.   

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Our granddaughter, Mary, will soon be three years old.  As I thank God for Mary’s life, I am continually grateful for the blessing of a mother from Taiwan who chose life for her baby and then selected a couple from Texas, who were living in Turkey, to adopt her daughter.



What beautiful reminders that God also chooses us to be part of his family and rejoices over us every day of the year.  May we be faithful in teaching and sharing God’s love with this next generation.

Grandchildren are the crown of the aged,
    and the glory of children is their fathers.
Proverbs 17:6

He established a testimony in Jacob
    and appointed a law in Israel,
which he commanded our fathers
    to teach to their children,
that the next generation might know them,
    the children yet unborn,
and arise and tell them to their children,
     so that they should set their hope in God
and not forget the works of God,
    but keep his commandments.
Psalm 78:5

"God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure."
Eph 1:5 NLT

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Taking Care of Business



My dad was a list maker and I learned from observing him.  This has been a full list week with more still to go.  Some items are easily checked off each day while others take more time and stay on the list, as a reminder, until they are accomplished.    One of those big items was taken care of this week as Larry and I updated our wills and also had medical papers drawn up and notarized.  There was much peace in knowing that we had selected an attorney we trusted to guide us through the process.  When the time comes for the medical papers, I did ask Larry to get a second opinion, or at least wait a few minutes, before signing off to let me go.  Having that business in order will be a blessing for our sons and their families.  What a great reminder that since our days are numbered, I need to be intentional about making them count and make a difference for God’s Kingdom.

This has also been a week of taking care of business at physical therapy.  I have had long periods of time riding the stationary bike, completing balancing activities, and walking on the treadmill during the hour long sessions.  On Thursday, the therapist had me wear the harness because he was increasing the speed and distance that I was to walk.  Even though it is challenging, and I really have to concentrate, I can tell that it is making a difference in my walking gait and speed.  The difficulty will be worth the effort as I get stronger, improve my balance, and walk more fluidly.

Some of our Tallowood Adult Choir and Orchestra, as well as other adults from church have been on a mission trip to Germany.  Our Jr. High students served with various ministries around Houston this past week while our high school students are in Washington, Oregon, California, and Ohio on mission trips.  Another group of church members are building a church, working in an eye clinic, and serving the people of Zambia.  Much prayer, work, rehearsals, meetings, and logistics needed to happen for the trips to be possible and the ministries to be beneficial.  

 Here in Houston, there is heavenly business that we have the opportunity to pursue and be attentive to every day.  Some opportunities may be for a short time while others take much more time, energy, and care.  Whether it’s checking off items on a list, giving my best effort for therapy, or making investments that make a difference for eternity, may they all be done for God’s glory.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
I Corinthians 10:31

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Cheers and Helping Hands



Matt Woodrum is a fifth grader at Colonial Hills Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio.  On May 16, the 11 year old, with Cerebral Palsy, participated in his school’s field day events.  Matt had been given the option to sit out and watch, due to his disability, but he chose to enter and participate in the 400-meter race.  His mother was at field day to cheer for her son and to film his running event. 

The gym teacher, John Blaine, gave the signal and the race began.  It didn’t take too many seconds for the other participants to run past Matt.  As the other kids completed the race, Matt wasn’t even to the halfway point.  Coach Blaine walked across the field and quietly began encouraging Matt as he walked beside him.  It was obvious that Matt’s running was becoming more labored with each additional step.  At times it didn’t look like he could take another step, but he persevered.  Around the midway point, a few of Matt’s classmates began to notice that he was still running.  They jogged over and began running alongside him.  Before long, more and more kids from his class came over and began clapping and chanting, “Let’s go Matt, let’s go!”  As Matt crossed the Finish Line, his classmates clapped, cheered, and gave him hugs.  When interviewed by ABC 6, Matt told the reporter, “It was really encouraging.  It helped me get through the rest of the race.”  I am inspired by Coach Blaine, Matt, and his classmates.

I, too, continue to be the recipient of cheers of encouragement and helping hands.  A few weeks ago I began physical therapy sessions.  Along with the challenges, the therapist offers much encouragement and praise.  On the third day, he said that I was going to start off on the treadmill.  I laughed until I realized that he was serious.  He said I could put on the harness, but he believed that I could walk without it.  When asked what I would prefer to do, I responded, “Pray!”  With his encouragement, I did walk on the treadmill, without the harness, for 15 minutes and 5 seconds!  Since I am relearning how to walk, it takes much concentration and effort.  Even though it is not at a fast pace, he has upped the speed gradually through these days of training.  On Monday I practiced on the wobble board for the first time.  I told him I thought I was already pretty proficient at wobbling, but he took it to a new level.  On Thursday, I had an assessment to check my progress.  On the 6 minute walk, I was a few yards shy of doubling the distance covered on the first day of testing.  I also had positive results on some of the tests that I had not been able to do at the time of the first assessment.  There were high fives and rejoicing in seeing a difference in the results of just a few weeks of training.  I improved in some areas more than others, but now we know what needs to be the focus for the next training sessions.  I will be working even harder in the weeks ahead to improve my balance.

Jesus also knew that we would need an encourager to be with us once he ascended into Heaven.  Thank you, God for sending us your Holy Spirit to encourage, convict, comfort and help us until your work on Earth is done.  Please help me take advantage of the opportunities you give to encourage others.” 

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.
John 14:16-17

Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace and was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it increased in numbers.
Acts 9:31

When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
Acts 11:23

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 15:5-6

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Star of Bethlehem and Freedom

This week, the skies have displayed one of the greatest pairing of planets in our lifetime.  According to Fred Schaaf, a local author and astronomer, “It also is a near-replay of what some scholars believe was the most spectacular appearance of the Star of Bethlehem.  June 30, is when the two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, come closest of all to each other in the sky.  They come almost as close to each other as they did on June 17, 2 B.C., when Magi in Babylonia or Persia would have seen the two merge into one single blazing light as the pair descended to the horizon in the exact direction of Jerusalem and Bethlehem.” 

Since it was cloudy and overcast on June 30, the night the planets were closest together and brightest, Larry and I drove to a place close by without many artificial lights around so we would be able to see the planets clearly.  Every night since, we have been able to see the planets from the end of our driveway.  They will be closely paired this entire week.  It is amazing to realize that the conjunction of Venus and Jupiter that brilliantly announced the birth of Jesus to the Magi is what we witnessed, too!

 
June 30, 2015
It looks like there is a nativity to the
right of the church.

July 1, 2015
Larry zoomed in with the camera on his phone.

July 2, 2015


 The Magi saw the brilliant Star of Bethlehem, but it’s what they chose to do after seeing the star that made a difference in their lives.  The Magi had been searching for a King of the Jews.  When they saw the bright star rising in the East, they set out to inquire about the royal birth from King Herod.  Upon finding out that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, the Magi followed the star until it stopped over the house where Jesus was staying.  When they saw Him, they bowed down, worshiped Him, and gave Him gifts.  After being warned in a dream, in obedience the Magi returned home a different way and didn’t report back to Herod.

Even though seeing the incredible Star of Bethlehem each night has been a memorable and amazing experience, the importance has not been lost on the significance of the event.  The same Creator God, who made the planets Jupiter and Venus and determined their paths, is the One who lovingly gave His Son Jesus to be the sacrifice for our sins.  Today God is still looking for wise men, women, young people, boys and girls, who will seek Him, listen and obey His instruction, worship Him, and share His love and message with others.  And when we know the Truth, the truth will set us free.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” And it was so. God made two great lights—the greater light to govern the day and the lesser light to govern the night. He also made the stars. God set them in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth, to govern the day and the night, and to separate light from darkness. And God saw that it was good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the fourth day.
Genesis 1:14-19

The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
Psalm 19:1-4

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
“‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
    are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
    who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared.  He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.  When they saw the star, they were overjoyed.  On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
Matthew 2:1-12

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31b-32

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Being a Doer



Since having the stem cell treatments in May, one of the improvements both Larry and I have noticed is that my walking gait is different.  Instead of a big swing to the left side, every time I take a step, the half circle is much smaller and more in line with almost normal walking.  In order to take advantage of gaining strength and making improvements in the coming days, my doctor has written a prescription for physical therapy.  After three therapy appointments, it is obvious that I am going to need to retrain how I walk.  My physical therapist said he is going to have me do things way out of my comfort zone and really push me to make improvements for my balance, walking, strength, and other issues.  After three sessions, I can say that he speaks truthfully.  He has also given me exercises to do at home.  These times are tiring, challenging, and so worth it. 

The rehab place is set up to accommodate people who have MS, who are recovering from strokes, or who have other injuries.  The therapists have spent years studying, training, and preparing in order to know how to offer the best treatment for positive results.  Even with all of my therapist’s expertise, the only way I will benefit is if I make the commitment to hear what is prescribed, exercise every day, concentrate on what to pay attention to, and do it all to the best of my ability.

This week’s Bible readings have been big encouragements to me.  On Wednesday morning I read a passage in Hebrews 12 that I know I have read numerous times, but this time it had a special meaning and challenge for me.

Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
Hebrews 12:12-13

And to add to that challenge and encouragement, on Friday morning I read James 1.  As a Christ follower, every day I also need to willingly make the commitment to read God’s Word, hear and listen to the instructions, and then put into action what it says.  At times it too may be tiring and challenging, but living obediently will be well worth it.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
James 1:22

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:25