Saturday, December 31, 2011

Preparing for 2012

I am always amazed at the details of the Christmas story as I read and hear the accounts each December.  This year, I was reminded that Mary, Joseph, the shepherds, and Magi had a common thread in the story of the birth of Jesus.  There were some profound lessons to be learned and taken to heart.

God sent the angel Gabriel to Mary to tell her that God had found favor with her and the Lord was with her.  She was to give birth to a son and name him Jesus.  He would be called the Son of the Most High.  God would give him the throne of his father David.  When Mary did not understand, the angel explained that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and she would conceive and have a baby.  Mary believed and trusted God.

An angel appeared to Joseph, in a dream, and told him to not be afraid to take Mary as his wife because what was conceived in her was of the Holy Spirit.  He was to give him the name Jesus.  When he awoke, he did what the angel had told him to do.  Joseph again obeyed when an angel warned him, in a dream, to take Mary and Jesus and escape to Egypt.  While living in Egypt, an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him to now move to the district of Galilee and lived in the town of Nazareth.

The shepherds were watching their sheep when they were surprised by the angel telling them the news of Jesus’ birth.  Then the angel chorus arrived to join in on the celebration.  Even though they were afraid, they believed the message and went to see the baby they had been told about.  And then they spread the word about what they had been told about Jesus.

The Magi came from the east because they had seen the star in the sky.  After visiting Herod, they continued to follow the star until it stopped over the place where they found Jesus.  They were warned in a dream to go home taking a different route. 

They each
heard God’s message,
listened to what was said,
believed the message,
and acted with obedience. 

And they were assured that they did not need to be afraid.  Sounds like a good plan for 2012, too!

Luke 1:38
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

Matthew 1:24
 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.

Luke 2:15-18
15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”  16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.

Matthew 2:12
12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

May this Christmas be a blessed one for you as you celebrate with family, friends, and most of all Jesus.

Debbie and Larry

Abby and Scott

Brad and Melinda


And because of Christmas...Easter is on its way.

Galatians 4:4-7
4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Celltex Celebration

Larry and I had the privilege of attending the Grand Opening of the Celltex, RNL BIO, Stem Cell Processing Facility in Sugar Land on Thursday afternoon and then the Dinner Reception at The Houstonian afterwards.  It was an amazing experience.  The lab is modeled after the top level lab  built in Seoul, South Korea, for stem cell research.  It is the only lab of its kind in North America where they culture, grow, and bank adult stem cells taken from your own fat cells.  Dr. Ra comes to Houston often to give guidance to the process and Donna, from Celltex, goes to the lab in South Korea so that everything remains in top order.  This facility is where my stem cells are expanded and banked.

Celltex RNL BIO Stem Cell Processing Center
Sugar Land, Texas

Dr. Jeong Chan Ra - Seoul, South Korea, Debbie, Dr. Stanley Jones

Dr. Lotfi, Dr. Ra, Debbie, Dr. Jones
Three amazing, brilliant, gifted doctors.

David Eller, Chairman & CEO of Celltex

In Dr. Ra's remarks here, and at The Houstonian, he gave
God all the glory for what is happening with stem cells.
Dr. Ra is a follower of Jesus and a deacon in the
Baptist Church in Seoul, South Korea.

Thomas Suehs, Executive Commissioner, Texas Department
 of Health and Human Services reading proclamation from
Gov. Rick Perry, & Dr. Jones, Vice Chairman & CMO of Celltex

The Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Dr. Jones holding the proclamation from Governor Perry
After the ceremony, we were able to take a tour of the facilities.  They have built this lab like the one in South Korea, with windows down the hallway, so you can watch the lab technicians processing the cells. 

My cells are being processed in here for  my next infusion!!!

After the Grand Opening, we went to The Houstonian for the Dinner Reception.  My sister, Micki, and niece, Sarah, were able to share the evening with us.

Rick Hardcastle, Texas House of Representatives, and Debbie
Rick also has MS.  He had a stem cell procedure and has
regained his balance and can now wear his boots again.

Larry led the prayer before dinner.

I was one of three stem cell recipients that shared our stories.

 Psalm 115:1
Not to us, O LORD, not to us
   but to your name be the glory,
   because of your love and faithfulness.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Staying Close Together

Each summer on the first night at camp, after the evening service, we would go with our group to the team meeting site.  Before it was dark, the logs were gathered and set up to make the camp fire.  It was always good to have kids on your team who camped and knew how to get the fire started and then keep it going.  Through the years, I noticed that they kept the logs stacked very close to each other, with a little circulation space in between the logs.  They were very careful to add more logs when needed.  If a log ever rolled away from the stack, it cooled off and produced very little heat as the fire went out.  As we stood around the fire, we enjoyed making and eating Smores and spending time getting to know the teammates for the week.

When it was time to head back to the cabins, the logs were pushed away from each other, doused with water, and covered with dirt.  It didn’t take long for the fire to go out and the logs to begin cooling.

Logs for a fire aren’t the only things that need to stay close together to fulfill their purpose. We are encouraged, held accountable, have fellowship, and given the privilege of ministering with others when we are together, whether it be at church, at home with our families, or with friends.  Just like the log that separated from the pile and lost its heat and fire, it’s a more difficult journey if we travel alone.

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

Hebrews 10:25
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Romans 1:11-12
11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.

Health Update:  The past few weeks I have been able to increase the weight and/or repetitions on the machines at the gym.  Today, a couple that we see often came over and told us that they had talked about how much progress they have seen in my ability to exercise this year.  I started using the elliptical machine for the first time 3 weeks ago.  Beth said that she was really amazed that I do the elliptical on the steepest setting.  Larry does the machine like that all the time so it was no big deal for him.  He left the setting the same since it didn’t have weights.  I looked at Larry and we all laughed.  But I did it!  I climbed a mountain for exercise today!  (Please pray for Beth and Allen.  They lost everything in an apartment fire four months ago.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Turning Loose and Letting Go

When we were at Camp Tallowood, I realized that it was easier, when going to our team site and recreation activities, to walk over rough areas and keep my balance if I used a walking stick.  That definitely proved beneficial when we had night activities or walked a longer distance.  But it took a while for me to get to the point where I was willing to use a cane to help with walking “In real life”.  To this day, I still have the generic kind you can buy at the pharmacy because I did not want it to seem like it was a permanent fixture.

Then I came to the day that I had to make a decision about riding in the wheelchair.  We had gone to College Station for a Texas A&M football game.  As my symptoms of MS increased, it was getting more difficult to watch the Corps step off from the quadrangle, follow them as they marched through campus, go into the stadium to watch as they marched in review, go outside the stadium to watch E-2 (Brad’s outfit) meet at Reveille’s grave, and then go back into the stadium to watch the game.  I might add that I was taking pictures, or getting Larry to take pictures, all along the way.  The wheelchair had been in the back of the car for other games, but I did not want to use it.  One day, it was really warm.  I took a big breath, sighed, and told Larry I would try using the wheelchair that day.  Oh, my!  It not only saved time, but also energy, and was much safer when in crowds.

Then there was the walker.  I don’t know why I rebelled so much about using a walker.  Maybe it was once again pride.  A lady at the gym had a walker and the trainer had me use it to see if it made it easier to walk.  It has been amazing to look back and see the freedom, balance, safety, and independence the walker has provided over this year.  Besides all that, I can move lots of things around with the walker.

Pride, comfort, trust, and security in what I was accustomed to had the potential of keeping me from trying and accepting what in the long run was better for me.  That may be OK for canes, wheelchairs, and walkers, but it’s not when it comes to what God has in store for me.  There are times, I know, when God has had His “next provision and blessing” ready for me to take, but has had to patiently wait for me to get to the point of letting go of the old so that I can grasp and take hold of the new.  And it is always much better and worth it.  Praying and hoping those times are getting fewer and further between.

Psalm 9:10
Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Psalm 28:7
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.

Psalm 31:14
But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, “You are my God.”

Jeremiah 17:7
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him.