Saturday, September 28, 2013

Cleaning Off the Lint Trap

It is amazing to me how an insignificant event can often remind one of a very important life event, lesson, or person.  More times than not, I think about my dad when I clean off the lint trap on the clothes dryer.  And that’s a good thing.  Before we were even tall enough to reach the top of the dryer, Daddy taught us how to clean off the lint trap.  He explained that it had to be cleaned after every load so the dryer would dry the clothes faster and better and so that the machine would last longer.  Other lessons were learned along with cleaning off the lint trap.
* Consistency is important when learning a lesson.
* When you perform a task every time, it is easier not to be tempted to skip it.
* Understanding the reason why helps give validity to the task at hand.
* Taking care of little messes now keeps you from dealing with bigger messes later on.
* People and machines can perform to their full potential when the little and big things are clean and working to capacity.
* It is important to take care of people and things that are important and precious to you.
And since my body is the temple of God’s Holy Spirit, I need to be even more diligent about keeping it clean, in order, working at capacity, and ready to use at a moment’s notice.  The trash needs to be cleaned out daily and replaced with what is good and beneficial.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. 
I Corinthians 6:19-20
Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.  “In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold.  Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 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 4:25-32

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Loving Them Best

During these days, I am in the process of learning what it means to love two very special people best.  Mom’s birthday is Sunday, but Larry and I celebrated with her on Friday.  Even though we usually celebrate birthday meals on the day, we are loving Mom best by doing it differently now.  The place where Mom lives makes a big deal on birthdays.  She will have a balloon tied to her chair and other special recognitions.  So that Mom can enjoy that too, we will help her celebrate over several days.  A card has already been sent because she enjoys receiving mail.  Friday we took Mom flowers, visited with her, and took her out to eat.   Eight years ago, on Mom’s 75th birthday, her children and 10 grandchildren compiled a list of memories and reasons we love her.  The goal was to come up with 75, but we had 100 on the list in no time.  They were printed up on stationery and given to her at her birthday celebration party.  I’m not sure that I’ve seen the pages lately, so since I still have some of the stationery, I printed them again.  It was a precious time to read those together yesterday and remind her of how dear she is to all of us.
We are so grateful for the place where Mom lives.  She feels safe and at home there.  In recent days, there have been times that she is more comfortable there than being away from what is familiar at a different location, even with family present.  Through tears at times, we three girls are learning that to love Mom best we need to allow her comfort and security to take precedence over traditions and our plans and desires.
We are also learning ways to best love our granddaughter Mary and her parents during these days.  What Scott and Abby provide for Mary now will impact her for the rest of her life.  They are diligent about getting it right by meeting with doctors, counselors, inviting people to pray, researching, and going to training to help Mary benefit the most from her adoption.  This past weekend Larry and I joined them for the two day Empowered to Connect adoption conference at Houston’s First Baptist Church.  I don’t for one minute think that the two main topics for the conference, sensory issues and attachment, were by accident.  The presenters were an excellent source of information.  Now to process and implement what we heard.  Even though it is hard to not be able to hold Mary and interact like we will be able to someday, we are learning that we can joyfully do “hard” knowing that it is the best way we can love her right now.
Two phrases, repeated often during the Empowered to Connect conference, were the importance of every child finding and having a “voice” and secondly to know their own “preciousness.”  I pray that as we willingly love them best, that will be true for both Mom and Mary during this season of their lives.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 
I Corinthian 13:4-7
Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. 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 2:1-4
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 
Psalm 139:14

Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:

“Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. 

Proverbs 31:28-30

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Remembering...What Now?

“You have 3 choices when bad things happen to you: You can let it destroy you, you can let it define you, or you can let it develop you.”  Rick Warren
Once again, we have paused as a nation to remember the atrocities of “9/11/2001.”   It is another event in United States history where you more than likely remember where you were and what you were doing when you first saw or heard the news.  The devastation was horrific as two hijacked planes flew into the North and South Towers at the World Trade Center in New York City and then a third plane crashed into the Pentagon in Washington D.C.  A fourth plane, headed to Washington D.C., crashed in a field in Pennsylvania as passengers tried to regain control of the plane from the terrorists.  Before the smoke and falling debris had a chance to clear, helpers were on the scene.  The firemen, policemen, medical personnel, and people on the street began rescue efforts.  Water, food, blankets, and first aid supplies arrived.  Rescue, recovery, and cleanup would take months and years to complete.
Now 12 years later we can look back and see that the event of 9/11 did not destroy America.  Even though it was a defining moment for our country, it was important not to just stay there.  Much needed to be assessed, learned from, and implemented to ensure our nation’s safety. 
And 12 years ago, on the morning we went to the doctor for the final consultation to confirm that I had Multiple Sclerosis, I remember praying and asking God that no matter what we found out to please still use me to make a difference for His Kingdom’s work.  Even though we suspected the MS diagnosis, I didn’t want my response to destroy or define me.  I knew there would need to be changes along the way, so my question became, “What now?”  Some things I’ve had to let go, but that has given me the opportunity to embrace, experiment, and discover other ways to develop. 
Every day, we each have the opportunity to decide whether we will let circumstances destroy, define, or develop us.  As for me, I choose the latter.

Show me your ways, Lord,
    teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 25:4-5

Saturday, September 7, 2013

She/they did it!

On Labor Day, September 2, 2013, 64-year old Diana Nyad became the first person to complete the 110 mile swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida, without the protection of a shark cage or using swim fins.  This was Nyad’s 5th attempt at crossing the Florida Straits, and this time she/they did it!  Diana successfully completed the swim in 52 hours, 54 minutes, 18.6 seconds.  Amazingly, she was able to walk ashore at Smathers Beach in Key West.  Even though she was exhausted, she wanted people to know that she had 3 messages to share with them.
1 “We should never ever give up.”
2 “You are never too old to chase your dreams.”
3 “It looks like a solitary sport, but it’s a team.”
Nyad’s first attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida was in 1978 at the age of 28.  She swam inside a shark cage, but after 42 hours and 76 miles she had to stop due to strong winds and currents which caused her to swim off course.  There were two additional endeavors in 2011 and another try in 2012.  And on her 5th attempt, she/they did it!
During the swimming ventures, there were obstacles to overcome.  After each attempt, these were addressed in hopes of making the next try a success.  Diana Nyad had to deal with winds, swift currents, swells, sharks, box jellyfish stings, fatigue and dehydration, storms, swimming off course, a shoulder injury, asthma, and swimming through the Gulf Stream.  
Nyad knows and acknowledges that what looks like a solitary sport is actually a team effort.  She had a team of 25 to support her efforts and cheer her on.  There were 5 boats which carried navigators, managers, shark experts, medical personnel, weather routers, and boat crews.  To keep Diana from veering off course, she was led by a catamaran pulling a ten foot streamer that was submerged 5 feet underwater.  It was like following a swim line in the pool.  At night, she was led by red LED lights.  Because of teamwork, she/they were successful on this most recent attempt!
As Christians, we too have lessons to learn, experience, and share.
* It’s best to keep our eyes on Jesus to guide us and keep us on course.
* We will have trials and obstacles to confront and deal with in this life,
    but we have the promise that God will be with us. 
* When we persevere and do God’s will, He will give us what He
* God has gifted each one of us and we are meant to share those gifts
    helping and encouraging others. 
* We should never ever give up pursuing Jesus and doing what He asks.
* You are never too young or too old to desire God’s purpose for your life
    and become who He created you to be.
* There is joy in the journey when we work together to accomplish a task.
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
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:3-8