Saturday, April 29, 2017

Volunteers

“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart.” – Elizabeth Andrew

Last Saturday, over 500 people from Tallowood gathered at the church for breakfast and then spread out to different locations in order to “Serve the City.”  For months now, plans have been made, supplies purchased and collected, details arranged, people contacted, and volunteers enlisted in order to better serve the people and organizations that had been selected.  From preschoolers to people in their 90s, families, Bible Study departments, and friends volunteered to help meet needs in Houston and Katy.  From Gracewood, Star of Hope, MAM (Memorial Assistance Ministries), the Baptist Mission Centers and other agencies, groups gathered to help.  Volunteers did landscaping, helped in food and clothes closets, fed and ministered to inner city families and the homeless, worked on houses, cleaned and organized, and lots of sweaty hard work.  Books were distributed to children, Vacation Bible School work was assembled, and widows were helped.  Several of the high school students and adults repaired homes that were damaged during Hurricane Ike in 2008.  People took time out of their busy schedules and free time to make a difference for others.  Even though rain was predicted, it was a clear and beautiful day.

Today and tomorrow around 13,000 people will be biking in the Houston 2017 BP MS 15o.   Organized by the National MS Society, funds will be raised for research in hopes of finding a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.  The participants pay an entry fee, spend months training on long bicycle rides, raise funds, and voluntarily subject themselves to fatigue, soreness, head winds and sometimes rain. There are over 3,500 volunteers, as well as thousands of spectators who cheer the riders along the way.  Help is needed for first aid, distributing snacks and water, keeping the roads clear, setting up and manning the overnight places to sleep and rest, as well as the provision for other needs along the way.  The race will start early Saturday morning and conclude on Sunday in Austin.  This year I again have several friends and friends of friends who will be riding for me.  It is humbling to realize that so many people voluntarily give these two days, and the previous months of training, in order to offer hope for a cure for those of us who can’t ride YET.

And it’s great to know that God doesn’t limit us to ministering and helping to just one weekend of the year.  When we see, hear, and feel with His heart, we can continually find opportunities to volunteer our words and deeds to help share and make the burden easier for others.

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send?  And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Galatians 5: 13

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
I Peter 4:10

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.
Peter 4:11

Saturday, April 22, 2017

New Growth

Spring is here!  The trees, bushes, and plants have been cut back and pruned in order for new and healthy growth to take place.  Old plants and shrubs, some that were damaged in the two days of freezing winter, have been removed and the ground prepared for new ones to plant in their place.  Mulch has been added to retain moisture and protect against weeds.  With rain and additional watering as an encouragement, buds are becoming flowers and new growth is taking place.  The lawn has been fertilized and aerated and is thick, lush, and green.   It is already to the point where Larry needs to mow once a week in order to maintain the lawn.  What a refreshing time of the year.

Plants aren’t the only things that need attention in order to bloom and grow.  God wants to carefully cut off and discard what is not healthy or beneficial in our lives.  Once that is complete, pruning can take place so our lives are even more fruitful.  Worship, Bible study, prayer, discipleship, and accountability help “fertilize” and encourage new growth. 

Yards and people are both worth investing in and tending to this time of year.  And what we plant and take care of have the best chance to bloom, blossom, and grow.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:  The old has gone, the new is here!
2 Corinthians 5:17

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
John 15:2

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Ephesians 4:22-24

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Endless Hope

“It has been said that graveyards remind us of the brevity of life.  Jesus’ resurrection reminds us of the brevity of death.  His death and resurrection offer us endless hope instead of a hopeless end.” – David E. Garland

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

What powerful, encouraging, and thoughtful words to ponder as we remember the sacrificial gift of love demonstrated in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.  What Satan and people meant for evil and death, God meant for good and life.

Paul reminds fellow Christians, “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”  (Romans 6:4)  And God promises the gift of salvation to all who believe and trust in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.  “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Because of Jesus’ resurrection, and my faith and trust in Him,  I have the assurance of life with Him both now and for eternity.  And with much gratitude and hope, that should make a difference in how I choose to pursue His will for my life.  Therefore, my actions, reactions, words, deeds, and everything I choose to do or not do should all be for God’s glory.

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “By his wounds you have been healed.”
1 Peter 2:24

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
2 Corinthians 5:14-15

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27

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

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Being Like Jesus

“True Christian humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.” C. S. Lewis Mere Christianity

Maggie Ballard and her son Paxton Burns, age 6, live in Riverside, Kansas.  In October, seeing a need in their community, the mother and son installed a “Blessing Box” in their front yard.  The large 2-shelved box is painted bright red, with a clear covering on the front, and is mounted on a wooden post.  Inside the box are soap, noodles, canned goods, pancake mix, along with other toiletries and food items.  There is a printed note on the front which states:  “Take a blessing when you need one.  Leave [a] blessing when you can.”

Since items are taken daily, every morning before school and every evening, Paxton checks the box and refills it.  People in the community have donated money and are constantly leaving items on the front porch to add to the box.  The “Blessing Box” has far exceeded their expectations.  Other people are now looking into adding the boxes as well.

In November, Shlomo Rechnitz, a California businessman, had a layover at Shannon Airport in Ireland on his way to Israel.  While waiting inside the terminal he noticed 400 U. S. soldiers sitting on the floor eating from lunch bags while civilians, some whom they were in the military to protect, were dining in the fine bistros.  Rechnitz decided he wanted to do something about the situation.  First he offered heartfelt words of appreciation to the soldiers thanking them for voluntarily serving in the military and for risking their lives in order to keep us safe at home.  Then Shlomo Rechnitz bought a hot meal for all 400 soldiers.

Besides just talking, Maggie Ballard, Paxton Burns, and Shlomo Rerchnitz saw a need and did something to help remedy the situation.  They didn’t wait for a committee to be formed, for others to offer to help in the process, or to be interviewed about their intentions before they acted.  They set into motion what their hearts felt.  What a difference we would make in our world if we were willing to do the same.

Lord, help us to see with your heart and eyes, hear with your ears, and respond like Jesus would.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.  Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:3-4

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Power Connection

When I am out and about, I wear a walking device that keeps my left foot from dragging and helping me not stumble.  It has two parts that need to be recharged each night.  In addition, there are two parts connected to my shoe that run on a battery.  Usually I do not wear the shoes with the device if I am at home.  That forces me to have to work a little harder to make sure I pick up my foot with each step, but hopefully that will continue to keep that foot strong and train it to do what it is supposed to do.

I have two pairs of shoes that are identical.  The newer pair has the walking device attached, while the older pair is used for exercising and just wearing around the house.  On Monday night we met Scott and his family for dinner to celebrate Abby’s birthday.  Since we were going out, I quickly unplugged the walking devices from the chargers, put them on, and headed to the car.  Because I was in a hurry, I didn’t turn the controls on until I was seated in the car.  When we arrived, I stepped out of the car and realized that the device was not working.  I tried 3 times to start it without being successful.  The red flashing light came on and it beeped to signal that something was not making a connection.  Since the component that straps to my leg and the device that goes in my purse were fully charged, that meant that the battery for the part in my shoe must need to be replaced. 

When we arrived at home, Larry offered to change the battery so the device would be ready for the next time I needed it.  When I took my shoe off, we realized that I had worn the old shoe and had not put on the newer shoe with the devices attached.  Even though all the parts were properly charged and ready to use, they did not work because a connection had not been made by wearing the proper shoes.

In life, I need to intentionally keep my spiritual batteries charged by reading the Bible, praying, worshiping, learning, ministering, and serving.  But it’s only when I am connected to God that the power is present.  And fortunately, God never needs to recharge or change batteries for His source of power.

"I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit: apart from me you can do nothing."
John 15:5

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come on you, and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Acts 1:8

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in Him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

My speech and my proclamation were not with persuasive words of wisdom but with a powerful demonstration by the Spirit, so that your faith might not be based on men's wisdom but on God's power.
I Corinthians 2:4-5

May you be strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for all endurance and patience, with joy giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the saints' inheritance in the light.
Colossians 1:11-12

His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.
2 Peter 1:3

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Brotherly Love



March 21, 2017, marked the 21st anniversary of when my brother met Jesus face to face.  Terry had just completed work for the day, was visiting with men at the job site, and at 38 years of age died of a massive heart attack.  He left behind his wife Eileen, daughter Stacy (15 years old), son Erich (13 years old), and family and friends who loved him dearly.  The details of that day are embedded in all of our hearts and minds.

From the beginning, one of Dad’s desires for our family was that we would be close, and that was for more than just in age.  Thankfully, that priority was accomplished.  There were four daughters and one son in our family born in less than seven years.  Terry was the fourth child and more than held his own with four sisters.  He was even known to pass out Kleenex to all the girls before we watched “Little House on the Prairie.”  As a child, as well as an adult, Terry brought much joy, laughter, and mischief into our family.   You knew you would enjoy and treasure life whenever he was around.  Terry wasn’t perfect by any means, but as he grew he embraced his relationship with Jesus.  Before going to seminary, Larry was the Youth Minister at South Main Baptist Church, Pasadena for part of Terry’s and Micki’s, high school years.  As an adult, Terry taught 7th grade boys in Sunday School and went to church youth camp as a sponsor.  Since he had probably tried most of the tricks in the book, he was a great one to have to watch out for the kids.  At his funeral, several people stated that either they or their child had become a follower of Jesus because of Terry’s influence during their 7th grade year.  One of the most cherished memories our youngest sister, Micki, learned from Terry “was to let people know that they are special to me.  Whenever I said something nice about someone, or told him what someone had done for me, he always asked me if I had let them know that I appreciated it, or just that they were special to me.  When he died, I did not spend one minute wondering if he knew how special he was to me and that I loved him.  He did know, because I told him on several occasions.”  What a blessing to have the gift of no regrets. 

Once the grandchildren came along, Terry was loved and adored by another generation.  Whenever Terry was present, he had the kids’ attention from the moment he walked in the room.  He took time to play with them, joke, and teach them things.  Even after his own children were born, Terry had a way of including everyone when he was around.





Terry’s favorite number was 18, since he was born on October 18th.  It’s one of those facts that we all know and remember about him.  My senior year in college, Dad and Mom bought a car for us three older girls to have and share at Texas Tech.  When Dad brought the car home, Terry gave me an envelope that I was instructed to pull over and open when the odometer hit 18.  I opened the envelope just a few houses down on our street and found a $20 bill of his hard earned money that he had gifted to commemorate the occasion.  I love that my first stem cell treatment was on October 18th, his birthday.  Terry’s son recently married and chose a month with the 18th on the weekend, in memory of his dad, to have the wedding.  Even with Mom’s memory waning, she still chooses cards with 18 on them when they play BINGO at her retirement home.

Weeks like this seem to magnify the gift we had in Terry.  The memories have been extra sweet.  Although Terry only had 38 years on this earth, he packed a lifetime into them.  He taught his family the importance of loving each other, praying, having a relationship with Jesus, and other important lessons.  It’s as if he had an urgency to teach and encourage them with what they needed to know about life.   He would have continued to be so proud of Eileen, Stacy, and Erich.  Terry taught and modeled and they took it to heart and put it into practice.  Eileen continued to teach school and married a man who loves and provides for her and the kids.  Stacy graduated college, married a fine man, has a precious daughter, and is a lab technician at a hospital.  Erich served two tours of duty in the United States Marine Corps, graduated college, taught school, recently married a wonderful woman, and is attending law school.  How grateful we continue to be for God’s gift of Terry and his family. 






Some thoughts through these years:
* God’s love, faithfulness, presence, and provision continue to be enough.
* Investing in your family is worth it.
* Death may take a life, but the love and memories remain.
* Family and friends are treasured blessings, especially at times like these.
* Since our days are numbered, it’s important to express love and appreciation every chance you get.
* Celebrate, love, and cherish the ones you still have with you.
* I need to make sure I am living a life that makes a difference and is worthy of being missed and remembered.
* I want to be intentionally faithful to God’s purpose for my life.
* Because of my belief and trust in Jesus, I will be with Terry again one day.

Teach us to number our days,
     that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

How wonderful, how beautiful,
     when brothers and sisters get along!
Psalm 133:1 (The Message)

Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice!  Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace.  And the God of love and peace will be with you.
2 Corinthians 13:11

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Spring Break 2017



This week was a break in the everyday routine of our schedules.  Priorities still had precedence, but we purposely chose to set aside some things or wait to complete projects in order to spend quality and quantity time with family and extended family.

What a wonderful week of Spring Break.  We’ve enjoyed sharing birthday celebrations, meals, and time together.  It was extra special having all six grandchildren, as well as the adult children, here at the same time.  How delightful to watch the kids play and enjoy being with each other.  There was much laughter, giggling, and excitement.  We also had tears when they had to be apart from each other for a few hours.  My prayer is that they will always enjoy being together, learning from each other, and celebrating life along the way.  

Spring Break started by celebrating our great-nephew Eli’s 6th birthday last Sunday afternoon in Pasadena.  We were able to be with lots of family.  Chad’s family arrived Sunday evening.  On Thursday I enjoyed spending time with my Mom and two of my sisters in Pasadena.  Larry and I drove to Porter on Friday to celebrate his sister’s 80th birthday. This morning we will celebrate Ryen’s 4th birthday and Sawyer’s upcoming 2nd birthday before they go back to Gatesville.  This has been an extra special week with lots of time with family. 

Daniel     David     Sawyer      Della      Ryen    Mary
                                   2              6      23 months  3 months  4          4

 Larry and Della

 It's always fun when Uncle Brad is around

Abby made me a birthday cake out of watermelon
strawberries and grapes.  The grandkids enjoyed
eating the fruit on a stick. 

In my Bible readings these past weeks, God’s plan for the ongoing teaching and purpose for family has been on my heart and mind.  Along with the laughter and fun, I also want to be intentional about the time I spend modeling and teaching about God’s love, purpose, and provision whether it’s Spring Break or just another ordinary day.

And for the record:  It’s way too quiet around here now that all have gone home.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9