Saturday, March 28, 2015

Lawn Maintenance



The past two weeks, Larry mowed the grass five times, not because the grass is tall and in need of cutting, but in order to get rid of the thatch.  Each time he mowed, he moved the blade down one notch to make it possible to remove more of the dead grass and thatch.  This last time the grass looks like it has its summer haircut.  Now, since almost all of the thatch has been removed, the grass will have the best chance to grow into a green, thick and healthy lawn.  Because of Larry’s hard work and care, we will be able to enjoy a beautiful yard this spring and summer.

The garage has been cleaned and organized as have other projects inside the house.  Some take little effort while others consume more time and energy to make sure they are up to par. 

But yards and houses aren’t the only things that need to be cleaned and refreshed during this time of year.  I, too, need to make sure that I am prepared for the new and freshness that spring brings about.  It’s time to clear out, layer by layer, anything that does not need to be a part of my life in order to make room for the attributes that need to bloom and grow.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32

But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.
Colossians 3:8-10

Saturday, March 21, 2015

More Than Just a Game



In the highly competitive world of basketball, two coaches have shown that life is more than just a game; that people are more important than a win.  Antoine Mason plays for Auburn University and is their second-leading scorer on the team.  In February, his father, Anthony Mason, a former NBA All Star for the New York Nicks, suffered a heart attack and had been hospitalized.  Auburn Tigers Coach Bruce Pearl gave Antoine permission to leave the team for the remainder of the season so he could spend time with his father and family.  Coach Pearl was willing to allow one of his top scorers to be with family at a crucial time because he understands that family takes precedence over winning a game.  Antoine made several trips home and then back to school in February.  After multiple surgeries, Mr. Mason’s health was improving so Antoine decided to continue the season.  Anthony Mason was 48 when he took a turn for the worse and lost his life on February 28, 2015, the same day that Auburn played Texas A&M.

Billy Kennedy, Texas A&M’s basketball coach, also took notice of the death of Anthony Mason and the absence of player Antoine Mason.  Earlier in the day, the Auburn uniforms were already out in the locker room.  The Aggie equipment staff took the jerseys, bought black remembrance ribbons, had the ribbons embroidered on the players’ uniforms, and returned the jerseys to the locker room as their way to support the Mason family.  Before the start of the game, A&M also held a minute of silence to honor the memory of Anthony Mason.

Coach Pearl commented, “I want to thank the Texas A&M Administration and the basketball program for a really first-class gesture before the game.  That really was very, very kind, very, very thoughtful, and it meant a lot to us.  And it really kind of makes me proud that Texas A&M is part of the SEC family, because that was what family does.  We had the jerseys in the locker room this afternoon and they went in and got everything, they took care of everything.”

Bruce Pearl and Billy Kennedy are two coaches who realize and exhibit that life is more than just a game.  It’s loving, caring for, and being family that makes a difference.

 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.
Romans 12:9-13

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Sonshine



Our recent days of winter weather have brought dark, overcast skies, along with some sprinkles and rain.  The dreary cold days seem to dampen spirits as well.  The dark of night comes more quickly.  With some homes losing electricity, the darkness is even more daunting.  It is amazing how little bursts of sunlight throughout the day lighten the load and cheer the spirit.  Energy levels pick up and smiles seem to come more quickly.

God sent Jesus as the light to our world.  His Sonlight is not dependent on the time of day or the weather.  He continues to light our path and clearly point us to His Father.  Not only is Jesus our light, but he invites each one of us to shine His light so that others can, in turn, glorify our Father in heaven.  Especially in the dark days of life, a little light offers a big glimmer of hope.

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12

(Jesus said) I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.
John 12:46

 “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Awareness Week



The first full week of March is National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week.  This year my birthday occurred during the same week.  That day was a great reminder to me that before I was even born, God knew that I would have MS.  Through the years, I have even been given opportunities to prepare for my diagnosis.  Two dear friends had MS years before I was diagnosed.  I was constantly reading articles, watching specials, and listening for anything that could possibly help them have a better quality of life.  That research and preparation helped me not be devastated or fearful when the doctor presented the results from the testing I had done.  During these years, I have witnessed God’s continual love, protection, and provision for Melinda, Kenny, and me, as well as many others.

During this National Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Week, I realized, once again, that it is not what I have that defines me, but rather to whom I belong.  It’s not material possessions, health, or accomplishments that determine my worth or purpose in life, but instead my faith, trust, obedience, and relationship with Jesus that makes the difference.  And that is something to celebrate, be grateful for, and be aware of every day of the year.

For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.
Psalm 139:13-18  

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Christmas in February



These past six weeks, the ladies in our Bible Study have seen God at work in some amazing ways.  The first week of this Winter Bible Study, we had a lady come for the first time.  Within a few minutes, she shared that she had chosen to be a follower of Jesus just two months earlier and wanted to learn more.  After checking to see if she needed a Bible, she told us that the friend who introduced her to Jesus had given her one.  God began blessing and challenging us through our new friend’s enthusiasm and delight in the Lord.  When our leader called to see if she had any questions about the homework for the week, she found out that our friend had already finished the lessons because she was so eager to be in God’s Word.

The second week, we met in small groups to discuss the homework from the previous week.  Because of our new friend’s response to one of the questions, other questions of interest were asked to her by members of our group.  We found out that, due to unforeseen circumstances, she had moved from another state with just her car, pets, and a few belongings.  She needed to wait until the end of February to get on her feet and move into her apartment so in the meantime she was staying with a friend.  If we had rushed past the initial question, on to the next one, we might have missed an opportunity to learn of our friend’s needs.

As the weeks progressed, one of our Bible Study members mentioned that she was in the process of combining three homes worth of belongings.  She had some furniture and kitchen items and other things she would love to give our friend.  After asking her to make a list of what she needed, others stepped up with things they would donate.  Since the other ladies also wanted to give, we decided to have a surprise shower with additional needed items as well as gift cards.  We knew we would not get everything, but it would definitely give her a head start.  This past week, we could hardly wait to get to Bible Study and surprise our friend with her gifts.  It was like Christmas in February.

Last week, Larry and I met with a friend for an hour after I finished Bible Study.  At the end of the time, Larry asked if I wanted him to check and see if they were still serving lunch at the church.  I usually go home to eat, but due to the later time I welcomed eating there.  At the end of lunch, a lady came and asked Larry if he knew anyone who could use some bedroom furniture that she wanted to give away.  I immediately thought of our friend.  Because we were late in going to eat, we happened to be there at the time that the request was made.  Otherwise, Larry would have eaten earlier and been gone by that time.

With all the furniture and other items being stored, our friend needed help moving to the apartment.  After contacting Deacon Jim, he sent out a request and had four fellow deacons volunteer to go to the places where the furniture was stored and move it.  One deacon even took his young son to help in the process.

What one person could not have easily done, God used a team of his children to joyfully accomplish together.  There were sweet blessings that came from asking additional questions to a response and not rushing just to make sure that all the questions were answered for the lessons for the week.  Even a delayed lunch reaped more than one benefit.  And what a beautiful picture of deacons serving others along with a young boy being taught firsthand the blessing of giving and helping.

“Father, teach us to be quick to see and listen with a heart like yours and then to respond.”

In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”
Acts 20:35

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.
I Corinthians 2:12

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 7:12 

Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. 
Proverbs 22:6