Saturday, April 27, 2013

In Fewer Words

I grew up reading some of the Reader’s Digest Condensed Books.  Each volume usually included four or five of the current best-selling novels.  After reading the summaries of the books, I would select which novel I wanted to read first.  Sometimes I would read every novel in the collection while at other times I just read a few.  Since the selections weren’t as long as the real books, more could be read in a less amount of time.
In high school, I would read the required novel and then sometimes read the Cliff Notes, which was a summary of the book.  The cliff notes included highlights from each chapter, themes of the book, as well an analysis of the characters.  Even though they did not develop the story line in as much detail, the notes were beneficial in pointing out themes and other parts of the story that I may not have completely understood in relation to other parts.  
 A few weeks ago, I came across a verse in my Bible reading that summarized in a few words how we are to live.  Once again, it did not explain everything we are to do, but it spelled out very clearly five important responses to God all in one verse.  
Joshua 22:5 states:
But be very careful to keep the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you:
    to love the Lord your God,
   to walk in obedience to him, 
   to keep his commands,
   to hold fast to him and 
   to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.” 

It didn’t take long to read that verse, but it will take a lifetime to live and obey it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


With the bombing that occurred towards the finish line at the Boston Marathon and the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, we have had front row seats in seeing helpers in action this week.  In Boston, people immediately began to offer assistance whether it was medical, offering the use of a cell phone, helping people get to a safer location, picking people up, clearing the way for medical help, giving a runner the coat off of their back…and the list goes on.  People ran toward destruction in order to help rather than away to safety.  One person helped an older man get up so he could complete the race.  Another man gave his medal to a runner that was unable to complete the race, even though she was only a few hundred yards away from finishing.  The emergency personnel, military, FBI, and citizens have helped by working together to bring about the capture of a suspect.

In West, you saw firemen and policemen immediately answer the call for help.  There was also emergency help from Waco and other surrounding cities that came to assist.  The Red Cross and townspeople were responding with water and needed supplies while rescue centers were set up, and friends and neighbors were checking in on each other.  In just a few hours, blood drives and donation stations were in operation in West and other cities; people were offering their homes; college students and coaches were involved; prayers were being prayed; and people helped by giving and going.  We have seen the people of West and surrounding communities show they care with their time, presence, words, and deeds. 
This Saturday and Sunday, there will be other helpers in action as well.  People have trained, raised money, and are voluntarily subjecting their bodies to sore muscles and more to ride in the MS 150 to help find a cure for Multiple Sclerosis.  They are riding for those of us who can’t, yet.  There will be volunteers all along the way that will be aiding the riders as they hand out water, pass along encouraging words, take care of medical needs, fix bikes, give rides when needed, and drive their cars to meet the riders in Austin to celebrate their efforts and to bring them home.  Several people have bicycled the MS 15o in my honor for years now and others are riding for the first time.  My nephew has ridden for me, along with several adults I know from church and other places, as well as two father and teenage daughter teams.  The riders range in age from twelve to in their sixties.  Easter Sunday I met two women and their friend at church who will be riding for me because their dear grandmother told them I have MS.  It is humbling to know that there are people who give, ride, and pray for me because they want to help make a difference.  I and so many others are grateful for the gift of hope that they offer.
God continues to bless my life with family, friends, and medical personnel who help me be my best.  Larry takes to heart his role as a husband who serves.  I am encouraged, challenged, and blessed because of their efforts.
And Jesus knew that we were going to need a Helper every day when he went back to be with his father in Heaven.  In John 14:26, he reminded us But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” 
In the days ahead, whether there is an emergency or not, I hope and pray that when people look around for the helpers that God’s children will be the first ones they see.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.  Hebrews 6:10
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

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Breakfast, Pottery, and a Wedding

Early last Friday morning, Chad and I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for a very special weekend with several people in our family.  Brad and Melinda flew out Thursday night.  Upon our arrival in Albuquerque, we were met at the airport by my niece and her soon to be husband.  We went to breakfast together at “Tim’s Place” which is “Opened for Breakfast, Lunch, and Hugs” to eat, visit, and talk about the wedding.  I had read an article about the owner Tim, who was born with Down Syndrome, and had seen him interviewed so I was excited about the possibility of eating there and possibly meeting him.  My niece, Randi, and Tim went to high school together.   A few years after graduating college, Tim’s parents were looking for ways to help him continue to be successful.  Since he had worked in restaurants with positive responses, they looked in to him owning his own place.

When we arrived at “Tim’s Place” we were officially welcomed by Tim with a hug and greeting.  When he found out I was from Houston, he wanted to make sure I knew about the waiter who had stood up for a family with a special needs child.  The food was delicious and there was such a positive, happy feel to the place from Tim, the workers, and even the other customers.  How refreshing to see a young man use his gifts and abilities to make a difference in his community. 
Saturday morning, I went with my sister and brother-in-law to Hanselmann Pottery in Corrales, New Mexico.  It was another memorable experience.  As we walked in, there was no one else in the store, not even a salesperson.  The beautiful pottery was displayed on tables and hanging on the walls.  When you found what you wanted to buy, you simply followed the directions on the sign:  fill out a sales form, with the tax rate listed (a calculator was provided); include your payment or credit card information on the form; fold the paper and drop it in the locked box; then wrap your purchases in the provided paper.  It was remarkable to be in a place that  expected and trusted customers to be honest in their payments.  We left feeling like we had been in a very unique place.

And the highlight of the weekend was the wedding for Randi and Michael.  Randi is the daughter of Gary and my sister, Vicki.  It was such an incredibly special day.  Randi looked beautiful and she and Michael were so happy.  Our son, Chad, performed the ceremony.  There is a lot of love when you have known your cousin all of her life.  The wedding and reception were so nice.  We enjoyed celebrating the wonderful occasion with family and friends.  Vicki would have loved Michael and been very pleased that he and Randi chose each other.  Welcome to the family Michael.  We love you, too.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Philippians 4:8

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Sight, Trust, and Faith

One of the blessings of having some extra time now is that I have been able to attend Bible Studies at church.  Tracey and I have been in the same large group for studies for two years now, but this is the first semester I have had the privilege of being in the small discussion group with her.  God has used Tracey to open my eyes about His Word and what He is doing.  
When Tracey was in her early twenties, she went totally blind.  So each week she is escorted by her Seeing Eye dog to Bible Study.  It is amazing to watch the two of them get to where they need to be.  Since I am directionally challenged, and usually go by what store or other landmark is where I need to turn, you can imagine the fascination with what they do.  Tracey has to have faith that Emerald is going to guide and protect her from running into closed doors, obstacles or people that are around them; keep her away from danger, guide her on stairs, curbs, sidewalks; successfully get them to where they need to be; and generally be her eyes.  They are quite a pair.
I have also been challenged and encouraged to “see” the scriptures like Tracey does.  Tracey listens to the scriptures and study with the computer.  In discussion time, she often asks what we think something would look like.  “Would the feathers have gold in them?”  Her questions and insights have given me a new perspective on how I read God’s Word.  What do I need to be looking for?  What things do I need to see in a new, different, or more detailed way?

I, too, want to have complete trust and faith in Jesus as he leads me, even when I may not see exactly where we are going.  Knowing that he is with me, loves me, and wants the best for me helps me know he is the best to guide me.  I also want to have 20/20 vision with my eyes, heart, and mind.

Open my eyes that I may see
wonderful things in your law. 

Psalm 119:18

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,

he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.

Psalm 23:1-3

Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Savior,

and my hope is in you all day long.
Psalm 25:5

He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them his way.

Psalm 25:9

Since you are my rock and fortress,
for the sake of your name lead me.
Psalm 31:3

You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Psalm 73:24