Saturday, January 28, 2017

Above and Beyond

Tim Hadley is a principal in the Pekin Community School District in Packwood, Iowa.  Recently Jackson, one of the students at his school, shaved his head in support of his grandpa Rick who has cancer.  After arriving at school the next day, some of the students made comments about Jackson’s appearance and made fun of him.  Instead of just punishing the students who spoke disrespectfully, Mr. Hadley took the opportunity to teach all of the students the importance of treating others with respect.  The students gathered for an assembly and sat on the floor.  Principal Hadley explained to the students that he had heard of the unkind remarks that had been made to Jackson about his shaved head.  He asked the students how many knew someone who had cancer and almost every student raised their hand.  Mr. Hadley then made a point of acknowledging Jackson and commending him for honoring his grandpa in such a special way.  After speaking on the importance of respecting others, he called Jackson up and asked him to shave his head, too.  At the conclusion of the assembly, the principal reminded the students and teachers that in their school, “We’re family.  We support each other.”  Tim Hadley went above and beyond to make a young man feel valued and to teach his students a life lesson in a way that will not soon be forgotten.

Linda is the Community Relations Director at Colonial Oaks, in Pasadena, where my mom lives.  She is also a member of our home church and a family friend.  After a month in the hospital and rehab, Mom had progressed enough from her strokes to be able to return to her assisted living “Home.”  Due to her limitations, Mom needed to be moved to another area of the facility.  Knowing that it might take some adjusting, it was recommended that family give the staff three to four days to help Mom get acclimated before we came to visit her.  I am continuing to learn that when you love someone you need to be willing to do the hard things, not necessarily what you would choose to do, if that is what is best for them.  Mom was transported back to Colonial Oaks on Thursday morning and taken to her new room.  On Friday morning, as well as other times, Linda has checked on Mom and thoughtfully texted pictures of her smiling, happy, and participating in activities, knowing that would ease our hearts and minds.  Linda and the personnel have gone above and beyond what they had to do to love and care for Mom, as well as her daughters, during these days.

The late Christian humorist Grady Nutt reminded us that going above and beyond, going the second mile, is “That spirit that opens men to the grace of God.”  It’s time to lace up the shoes, heart, mind, and spirit and be ready to go above and beyond what is expected.

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.
Ephesians 4:29

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:32

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
    And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:8

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Doing the Right Thing

As I was driving out of the neighborhood one day this week, I stopped at the stop sign at the end of the street.  Being a rule follower, I made sure the car had completely stopped and the turn indicator was on before I proceeded to turn.  Then, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a policeman sitting in his car halfway down the intersecting street.  Even though I had already stopped, I made sure the car was at a standstill before turning the corner.  Although I try to make a practice of doing the right thing when driving, I double made sure I was following the law since the policeman was watching.  

Integrity is said to be doing the right thing, even if no one is watching.  The choices I make and the things I do should be consistent, whether I have an audience or not.  Since God is always with me and sees and knows everything, my actions, words, and deeds should be a constant and consistent reflection of His presence.

Dearest friends, when I was there with you, you were always so careful to follow my instructions. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to do the good things that result from being saved, obeying God with deep reverence, shrinking back from all that might displease him. For God is at work within you, helping you want to obey him, and then helping you do what he wants.
Philippians 2:12-13

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20b

Be careful to obey all these regulations I am giving you, so that it may always go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is good and right in the eyes of the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 12:28

If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.
James 4:17

Blessed are all who fear the Lord,
    who walk in obedience to him.

Psalm 128:1

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Making the Days/Years Count

This week, God has used a news article, a special person, a song on the radio, and scriptures to remind me of the importance of making my days/years count for His glory.

Krystal Payne, from Leesburg, Virginia, went to pick up her pizza order.  When she arrived, she noticed Ibby Piracha, who is deaf and a frequent customer at the Starbucks store where she works, having trouble placing his order.  At Starbucks, Ibby already has his order typed into his phone and shows it to the barista.  His frustration in ordering pizza caused Krystal to wonder if there was more she could do to make Ibby’s visits to Starbucks a more pleasant one.

Payne already knew some sign language from her experience as working as a nanny, but she decided to go on line to find resources that would help instruct her on more useful phrases so she could communicate better with Ibby.  On one of his next visits, Krystal handed him a note that said, “I’ve been learning ASL just so you can have the same experience as everyone else.”  When asked why she wanted to do that, Krystal said, “My job is to make sure people have the experience they expect and that’s what I gave him.”  What a wonderful example of someone who is making her days count by helping make a difference for the people around her. 

This past Tuesday, Larry and I had the privilege of eating lunch with Martha Wiebe and her daughter, Karen.  It was Martha’s 95th birthday!  Martha spills over God’s joy, hope, love, and laughter wherever she goes.  Those are just a few of the reasons I look forward to visiting with her each Sunday morning.  A few Sundays ago, when it was bitterly cold outside, Martha rode the shuttle bus from her retirement home so she could attend church.  The weather was not going to deter her from worshiping at Tallowood.  It should not have been a surprise that for her birthday she chose to attend the “10-10-10” prayer time, since she had not done that before, and then go back to the church for lunch.  Several years ago, Robin Moore was inspired to begin praying for the end of human trafficking in our city, especially along the I-10 corridor.  Because of her leadership and encouragement, several people now meet to pray on the 10th day of each month, at 10:00 a.m., at the gazebo at “Taste of Texas” on I-10 to pray for freedom for the victims of human trafficking as well as a change of heart and lifestyle for those who commit the crime.  With the Super Bowl weekend being one of the biggest occasions for human trafficking, it would be good for all of us to make time to pray for protection for the victims and the elimination of the abuse.  I love Martha and that she is still looking for ways to serve the Lord and make her days count for His Kingdom. 

On the way to Bible Study on Tuesday morning, I heard the song, “Let Them See You,” by Jason Weeks and Scotty Wilbanks, on the radio.  It was a reminder of what I want the desire of my heart to be as a believer in Christ.  Part of the song says:

"With every breath I breathe
Sing a simple melody
But I pray they hear more than a song
In me, in me

Let them see You in me
Let them hear You when I speak
Let them feel You when I sing
Let them see You, let them see You in me"

This week, may we be intentional in making our days count in order to make a difference for God’s glory and His Kingdom’s work. 

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

A person’s days are determined;
   you have decreed the number of his months
  and have set limits he cannot exceed. 
Job 14:5 

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

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Longing for Home

A few days before Thanksgiving, our brother-in-law had a stroke.  Then the week before Christmas my Mom had two small strokes and was taken by ambulance to the hospital.  These past few weeks have been full of hospital visits in Kingwood and Pasadena.  Both J.R. and Mom have longed to go home where things are familiar and they feel safe and content.  Before that can happen, more progress needs to occur.

Both have been moved to rehab facilities where they are being worked with to gain strength and be able to do tasks that were once part of their everyday life before.  As much as they long to be home, there is still work to do and goals to be accomplished before that can happen.

Observations and thoughts:
* It pulls at your heartstrings to see loved ones having a tough time physically and emotionally.
* Sometimes you have to be in places that aren’t your first choice because that is where people who have been trained and are able to offer the proper care can help.
* It takes hard work to make progress.
* Tasks that were once easy and familiar can be difficult and must be relearned.
* Having advocates makes a difference, especially when help is needed.
* I had just mentioned to Larry, at one of the rehab places, that people might think I was one of the patients when a man in a wheelchair complimented me and cheered me on as I strolled down the hall using my walker.  It was a gentle reminder that I am blessed that MS is just an inconvenience at times.
* At times like these, it’s a huge blessing to have family and friends to share the journey.
* There are moments when you forego doing good things so you can be part of what’s best for someone else.
* Since we aren’t with Mom or J.R. 24 hours a day, there is much comfort and gratitude in knowing that God is with them every second, minute, and hour of the day.
* Prayer needs to be my priority and not my last resort.

Sometimes we, too, are discontent because we’re not in our eternal home yet.  And while we are still here, there is work to be accomplished and things to learn and share to help further God’s Kingdom here on earth.  May we be willing to persevere, keep our eyes on Jesus, and help others along the way.

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Matthew 28:20b

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
Joshua 1:9

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we  boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:1-5

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you
John 14:2

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
John 14:27