Welcome to my blog, or should I say to the ramblings of an old man. I doubt that my ramblings are of much value, but at least I have an opportunity to share them.  So, please be kind and humor me. If nothing else of value stands out in these thoughts, I hope that you at least sense the value I place on a daily walk with the Lord.  That walk is what has provided me with motivation and a sense of purpose throughout my lifetime.  My prayer is that you, too, are experiencing this direction and joy in daily living which is available to everyone who puts his trust in Christ.  So, thanks again for joining me.  Please don't go without leaving some comments here so I can get to know you better as our paths intersect today in this blog.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Let It Snow, Let It Snow ... NOT



       " He holds the future in the palm of His hand and He has never failed me yet. I know He is reigning and still has control, so why should I worry or fret?"
          These are the words of a song that our family used to sing in some of the programs that we presented over 25 years of our family ministry.  And the Lord often brings them back to my mind because I battle with the problem of worry, despite the multitude of ways the Lord has met all of my needs over the years. 
          One of my biggest concerns recently has been snow removal on our property.  I have had four major surgeries over the past four years including bypass surgery.  I am limited to lifting less than 10 pounds for several months.  Dianne has heart problems and has had three hospitalizations since September.  Neither of us are supposed to shovel snow.  So what will we do?
          I have struggled trying to find help.  Our family members live too far away to help us. Two folks that my one son was able to secure a few times in the past will no longer take snow removal jobs. I contacted numerous professionals, including the group that does the adjoining development and all claim to be booked up.  I advertised for help on a community bulletin board - no response.  I contacted eight of our neighbors - no immediate response except one who said she would pray for us and would check a few contacts. We have a good snow blower but nobody to use it.   What would we do?
          Now I should have taken comfort in how the Lord has worked it out in the past.  A few years ago we had a 30 inch snowstorm and we were snowed in. I had a heart cath scheduled the next day and actually ended up with five by-passes. Then Tom, a former neighbor, showed up and dug a path so we could at least get to our garage and get the car out to the road.  Dianne tried to clear the other side of the drive which was drifted but it was too much for her.  Then unexpectedly another former neighbor, Matt, showed up with a Bobcat and opened the rest of our drive and our mailbox.  What a blessing and answer to prayer.  But Tom and Matt are now gone.
         In another big snow another neighbor, a senior in high school, suddenly showed up and dug us out.  He has since gone to college.  Last year after another large storm my daughter-in-law found a family who came and dug us out and even used our snow blower.  But they are no longer taking such jobs.  I  sometimes wonder if all of the folks who just showed up to help were really angels sent by the Lord.
          But, coming back to our current situation, we finally did receive some responses from our letters.  Our next door neighbor called and said that she would help us if we needed help.  She is a young elementary school teacher.  She has a young man who lives with her but he works over an hour away and will need to get himself out to get to work. Will they really help?  Will they be dependable?  I guess time will tell.
          But God wasn't done yet.  A few days ago we were unloading groceries when a young man from the house across the street showed up and said that he and his house mates would help us however they could.  The five of them are college students and members of the fire department.  Several of them are also involved as paramedics.  While we had never actually met them before, they have been very nice neighbors and seem to be very mature, unlike other college students who have lived in our neighborhood over the years.  They have volunteered to not only help us with snow removal but also with anything else we might need done.  What a surprise!  What a blessing!  What a marvelous answer to our prayers.
          But why should I be surprised.  God continues to provide, but just not always on our time schedule.   So why should I worry or fret?
         I guess I should just try to settle back ...  relax  ...  quit worrying ... trust the Lord ... and see how the Lord will continue to handle difficult things this year.  But you probably won't hear me singing, "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!", but maybe instead "Thank you Lord".
           
(1)     All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav'nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

(2)     All the way my Savior leads me,
Cheers each winding path I tread;
Gives me grace for every trial,
Feeds me with the living Bread.
Though my weary steps may falter,
And my soul athirst may be,
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see;
Gushing from the Rock before me,
Lo! A spring of joy I see.

(3)     All the way my Savior leads me
O the fullness of His love!
Perfect rest to me is promised
In my Father's house above.
When my spirit, clothed immortal,
Wings its flight to realms of day
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way;
This my song through endless ages—
Jesus led me all the way.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Memories and Hymns


          Last evening we held a memorial service for a dear Christian brother who had a profound, positive impact upon so many people, as well as on the ministry of our church over about two decades.  The service might not have been as elaborate as the one held this week for former president George H. W. Bush, but it was an appropriate celebration for one who had served the Lord so faithfully.

          Dave German loved people.  He served as a mentor and counselor to so many folks over the years.  And he established an outstanding adult Sunday School program and trained and supervised a team of excellent teachers.  He and his wife Nona spent countless hours working on this program and helping a variety of people.
           Dave developed leukemia and then had a number of mini-strokes which kept him housebound and unable to continue his ministries.  After many months the Lord took him home for His eternal reward.  He is missed and will be for a long time.
          In the memorial service his wife arranged numerous things that were important to Dave - scriptures, music and musicians, testimonies and even his favorite snacks.  But he also loved something else that I also love and miss ... hymns.  And my wife was honored to be asked to play hymns for 30 minutes as a prelude and then more during the service.
          Now while the service was certainly not about me, this choice was a double blessing for me.  First, I had a chance to hear my wife practice these hymns, and I love to hear her play the piano.  Second, I love to hear the old hymns which were such a key part of my Christian growth over the years.  The hymns and scripture passages have been stored in my brain over the years and the Lord so often brings them back to me just when I need them.  I often wonder what the younger generations will have to recall when they get older.
          Now as my wife practiced for the service, several times I had the time to listen and quietly worship.  Silently I would remember and sing the words.  While doing this I would often talk to my Father and thank Him for the marvelous things He has done for me over the years.  As I recalled these, sometimes it even brought tears to my eyes as the hymns led me to worship.
          For you older readers, how could you not rejoice as you recalled the words of  ... Near to the Heart of God ... After ... And Can It Be ... All Your Anxiety ... Soon and very Soon ...  Under His Wings ... Jesus Lover of My Soul ...  A Mighty Fortress Is Our God ... Be Thou Exalted ...  Because He Lives ... Blest Be the Tie That Binds ... Abide With Me ...  I Shall Know Him ... Amazing Grace ...  Trusting Jesus ... How Great Thou Art ... O Love That Will Not Let Me Go ... He Hideth My Soul ... The Old Rugged Cross ...  Be Still My Soul ...  Safe in the Arms of Jesus ... Grace Greater Than Our Sin ... In the Presence o Jehovah ... Great is Thy Faithfulness ... God Be With You Till We Meet Again ... When We All Get to Heaven ... Face To Face ... and so many more.  

          Thank you Lord for so many meaningful hymns that you have used in my life over the years.  Thank you for your Spirit which fills us with peace, strength, comfort and hope when these words are brought back to our minds when we need them.

Face to face with Christ, my Savior,
Face to face--what will it be?
When with rapture I behold Him,
Jesus Christ who died for me.
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Only faintly now, I see Him,
With the darkling veil between,
But a blessed day is coming,
When His glory shall be seen.
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

What rejoicing in His presence,
When are banished grief and pain;
When the crooked ways are straightened,
And the dark things shall be plain.
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Face to face! O blissful moment!
Face to face--to see and know;
Face to face with my Redeemer,
Jesus Christ who loves me so.
Face to face I shall behold Him,
Far beyond the starry sky;
Face to face in all His glory,
I shall see Him by and by!

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Help In Time Of Need


          "Give thanks to the LORD for he is good; his love endures forever."  Psalm 107:1

          A few weeks ago I wrote a blog about our challenges in finding somebody to help us with our snow removal.  I marvel at how the Lord continues to take care of our needs even when it appears that there is no help in sight.  We had been searching for help only to find that all who do this professionally were booked for the winter.  We posted a help ad on the bulletin board of our local grocery store, without any response.  Then the first snow came and a neighbor from the street behind us saw our need as he took his morning walk and stopped to help us with some of the work.
          But we were still in need.  There will be more and probably larger snows this winter.  So I sent letters to eight of our neighbors, including some young men who were capable of helping us.  One neighbor did call to tell us that she was praying and checking a few of her contacts.  I decided to put an ad in a local weekly paper, but as I was doing that our next door neighbor called.    She is an elementary school teacher and has offered to help when she can.  She also offered the help of the young man who lives with her whenever he is at home.  So we'll see how this works out, especially for larger snows.  But we are thankful that the Lord is answering our prayers.  Unfortunately, I guess I don't have enough faith to pray that we don't get any snow this year - we've had record rain and don't really need more moisture.
          Now I must admit that I am having a very difficult time looking and asking for help from anyone besides our family members and I hate to depend upon them when they are so busy.  This stretch since July in which Dianne has been hospitalized three times and I have had cervical spine surgery has been an unexpected challenge.  After a month I am now able to drive again but my limit on lifting only 5 to 10 pounds will continue for three months.  It is so hard not being able to do anything and depending upon your wife and family members to take care of things you normally could do.
          But thankfully we have been able at least to get to church three evenings a week to keep up with my work as financial secretary of our church and treasurer of Awana.  And this next month is a very heavy one with the finances since I must prepare and distribute about 300 new boxes of envelopes and prepare a new computer data base for giving for 2019.  I must also prepare over 300 annual receipts after the first of the year, prepare receipts for several memorial gifts, and keep records of individual giving for each Sunday. That is many days and hours of work. So far I have been able to keep up with that work, with the help of my wife.  I guess it at least gives me something to do when I am well enough to do it.
          I have not been in church for worship since August and a few folks have said that they miss me. I hope that they really do.  It is very easy to get lost attending a larger church  and not really missed.  Dianne started returning a few weeks ago.  I'm not sure when I will go back. We have gotten a number of nice cards from folks during that time as well as two visits from our pastor and our visitation pastor during Dianne's hospitalization and one from each while here at home.  We have also had a few meals prepared by family members.
          Fortunately our family has been there to help as they've been able.  Our oldest grandson has come weekly to cut our grass and now to help us clean up our many leaves.  He has also done jobs around the house that we can't currently do.  On Thanksgiving our family showed up and our daughters-in-law brought the dinner.  The grandchildren carried in all of our Christmas boxes.  Our grandson set up our two trees and two of our granddaughters decorated both of them and did an excellent job. They also put up many of the other traditional decorations.  Some of the family helped with removing our leaves.  It was a special day and a very special blessing to us.  I thank the Lord for them.
          We've also found another way to get some help with a weekly necessary chore - online grocery shopping.  We have been solving the problem of shopping by ordering online and then at a designated time picking up our orders.  We've now done this three times and what a relief it is.  No more limping through the store and standing in lines to check-out.  We are thankful for this great new service.  And, of course, online shopping has been a tremendous help in doing our Christmas shopping.
          It is so hard to depend upon others to help especially when they are busy meeting their own obligations.  And I find it very difficult, if impossible, to do so.  I am finding out that few people really know how to help or are aware of things that they could do to help.  Perhaps they are praying for us. Hopefully, if I am ever again able to do such things once again, I will be more aware of little things that I could do to help others who are in need.  There are so many little things that folks could do if they just think about it.  For example, a few Sundays before Thanksgiving our church had a full turkey dinner for the congregation.  If they ever do it again, I will suggest that they take meals to those who can't attend.  That would have been wonderful and would have tasted so much better than the frozen meals we have been "enjoying".  Little things like that can make a big difference when you are limited and struggling.  And it shows that you really care.
          But I'm not complaining.  I am learning to take my needs to the Lord and then trying to have the faith for him to somehow take care of them.  And He has and He will.  Thank you Lord for your provision.

(1)     He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
Chorus: His love has no limits,
His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

(2)    When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father's full giving is only begun.
Chorus: His love has no limits,
His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

(3)    Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will upbear.
Chorus: His love has no limits,
His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Get Well!



        With four hospitalizations during the past three months, my wife and I have learned quite a bit about what is appreciated from friends during these stays and times of recovery.  It is really comforting to know that one has friends who are concerned and praying.
          Visitations are nice when one is feeling well enough to appreciate them.  But they should be short and comforting.  It is so easy to stay too long and wear out your welcome, especially when the patient is tired or in discomfort.  Unfortunately we have had to ask a few friends to leave and we should have done the same to a few others.  This is also the case when the patient is released and recovering at home. Generally 15 minutes is enough if you are not a family member.
          Flowers can be nice but they are very expensive.  Sometimes they are appreciated more after the patient is released and recovering at home.  Meals are also appreciated but only if you know what the patient can eat and enjoy.  During our stay we did receive some flowers from our Awana club and a few meals from friends and family.
          But I think one of the things we appreciated the most were the get well cards with personal messages included.  Unfortunately, cards have gotten very expensive but to buy one and pay to send it today shows real thoughtfulness and makes them even more appreciated. But please include a personal handwritten message.  E-mail cards are a nice substitute but you can't get them when you are in the hospital and you can't display them to enjoy during your days of recovery.  There is often something extra special about purchased or handmade cards with timely messages.
          Now many of the cards which we received contained beautiful messages and encouraging personal notes. For example, one of them said "Someone's Taking Really Good Care of You - Our God is the Great Physician - the One who made you and knows how to mend you.  His healing touch restores body, soul and spirit.  His schedule is never too full ... His diagnosis is always accurate ... His treatment is wise and gentle ... and His result - amazing! You couldn't be in better hands.  Lifting You Up in Prayer".  "Praying ... that you will be filled with His mighty, glorious strength so that you can keep going ... always full of the joy of the Lord." Colossians 1:11 TLB.  And that was encouraging.
          However, it is often good to receive a card that is humorous.  It can be encouraging just to laugh a little in times of stress and pain.  One of my favorites came from a cousin.  It showed a doctor in front of a skeleton, bones and medical jars and containers.  It said Here's a list of useful terms to speed your recovery:  Healthy as a horse ... Fit as a fiddle ...at your best ... Feeling in the pink ... chipper ... the ol' pizzaz ...100% ... tip top shape ... feeling your oats ... on top of the world ... strong as an ox ... back in the swing ... just ducky!
         Then it gave the following definitions.  Bacteria - rear entrance of a cafeteria.   Nitrate - cheaper than day rate.   Urine - opposite of "you're out!"  Barium - What happens if CPR fails.   Dilate - to live longer.   Outpatient - a person who has fainted.  I still enjoy this card.  Thanks Cuz!
          Well nobody enjoys being in the hospital.  But sometimes that is just part of life.  But it does help when you are remembered by friends who not only pray for you but also demonstrate their concern and friendship in some visible way.  Thank you to those who have done that for us.

(1)    I have a Savior, He's pleading in glory,
A dear, loving Savior though earth friends be few;
And now He is watching in tenderness o'er me;
And oh, that my Savior were your Savior, too.
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
I'm praying for you.

(2)    I have a Father; to me He has given
A hope for eternity, blessed and true;
And soon He will call me to meet Him in Heaven,
But, oh, that He'd let me bring you with me, too!
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
I'm praying for you.

(3)    I have a robe; 'tis resplendent in whiteness,
Awaiting in glory my wondering view;
Oh, when I receive it all shining in brightness,
Dear friend, could I see you receiving one, too!
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
I'm praying for you.

(4)    When Jesus has found you, tell others the story,
That my loving Savior is your Savior, too;
Then pray that your Savior may bring them to glory,
And prayer will be answered — 'twas answered for you!
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
I'm praying for you.

(5)   Speak of that Savior, that Father in Heaven,
That harp, crown, and robe which are waiting for you—
That peace you possess, and that rest to be given,
Still praying that Jesus may save them with you.
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
For you I am praying,
I'm praying for you.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

The Good Neighbor


          With apologies for the similarity between this week's blog and the account of the Good Samaritan as recorded in Luke 10:25-37.  Actually this story does not involve any person from Samaria.


          Once upon a time there was a senior couple who lived alone in their own home.  All of their lives they had been relatively healthy and able to take care of themselves and their property  They loved the Lord and spent most of their lives serving Him in a variety of ministries.  They had been part of a particular church for decades and in fact one of them had been there from the very start of the church many decades ago.
          But in recent years they suddenly and unexpectedly felt the difficulties of growing older.  They spent much of their time with doctors and in hospitals and found that they just couldn't do many of the things that they had easily done throughout their lives.  This was very difficult for them to accept.
          Most of their friends didn't realize how they were struggling since they were used to them always being so active. And they didn't readily share their condition or needs. Their children understood and tried to do all that they could do to help their parents. But there were many things that they just couldn't do because of their own jobs, their own responsibilities, and the distances from their parents, especially in bad weather.  
          Their friends most likely felt that their children should take care of all of their needs and as a result they did nothing to help the couple.
           But one day the couple reached a major roadblock at their home - snow.  They were no longer able to handle their snow removal even though they had a good  snowblower.  They also couldn't even find somebody to hire to do it.  They even advertised for help but without any response.
          So in their need the neighbors passed them by.  Many of these neighbors were young strong men. A few were college students. They should have no problem helping with this need, but they were too unconcerned and busy with their own affairs.  They had their own lives to handle and despite pleas from the seniors, they just passed them by leaving the seniors without any help and with their snow.
         Next were friends they had known for many years, including many Christians and church members.  Many of them also saw their plight and also passed them up.  No help came from those who claimed that they loved and cared for the senior couple.  Let their family take care of them and their snow they must have thought.  Or they may have just been too busy with their own families and needs to stop and help.  So on they went with their lives leaving the seniors with their snow.
          But alas, along came a man who was new to another area street. He passed the house of the seniors most days taking his early morning walk.  He also had his own obligations.  In fact he was just recently married and not one who you would expect would have the time to stop and help these folks.  But he did.  He dug the snow by hand and cleared the way and even used salt to protect the seniors when in case it refroze.  When the seniors asked would they could do in return he answered, "nothing for it is better to give than to receive!"  This cheered the hearts of the seniors who thanked him and the Lord for His care and provision.
         Which now of these, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that had the need?  And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise."
          And in that story - like that of the Good Samaritan - there must be a lesson for each of us.

    Out in the highways and byways of life,
Many are weary and sad;
Carry the sunshine where darkness is rife,
Making the sorrowing glad.
Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing.
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

    Tell the sweet story of Christ and His love,
Tell of His pow'r to forgive;
Others will trust Him if only you prove
True, every moment you live. 
Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing.
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

    Give as 'twas given to you in you need,
Love as the Master loved you;
Be to the helpless a helper indeed,
Unto your mission be true. 
Make me a blessing, Make me a blessing.
Out of my life may Jesus shine.
Make me a blessing, O Savior I pray,
Make me a blessing to someone today.

Now what will happen to the seniors the rest of the winter?  Only the Lord knows.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Names


          Now I'd like to have you look at the following two lists of names and tell me what they represent.
          List one : Jim, Tom, Shirley, Scott, Deb, Don, Cathy, Dan, Dave, Jeff, John, Bob, Sue, Craig, Frank, Cindy, Roy, Anne, Ken, Gail, Lois, Sharon, Bill, Ron, Linda, Dick, Phil, Larry, Harry, Mark, Sharon, Tim, Ruth.
          List two:  Bryn, Kerrigan, Maleah, Kilry, Zion, Leyani, Soliz, Audrina, Jayla, Isaac, Aiden, Abigail, Nikki, Kyler, Arielle, Amelia, Jaslyn, Ashtyn, Brailynn, Maude, Rhya, Ian, Marcail, Corbynn, Blake, Anastasia, Bentley, Camden, Lathan.
          Here's the answer.  The first list are some of the names of my students when I first taught high school, 55 years ago.  The second list are names of some of the kids who recently entered our Awana Grand Prix.
         Oh how names have changed.  Today it seems as though every parent desires to find a new name, invent a new name, or change the spelling of a name.  Each child must have a unique name and certainly not an old name.  And they will grow up with them and, unfortunately, many will deal with teachers or others mispronouncing them or not spelling them correctly.

          Nobody enjoys having their name handled incorrectly, but it happens.  My wife's name is Dianne and longtime friends still spell it Diane. She has dealt with that her entire life.  Now she has grown to expect this, but I still wonder why even those who are close to her can't learn to spell it correctly.  After all, it is her name and that is important.
          But going back to the change in names today, this trend makes me glad that I have retired from teaching.  I can't image having classes of 25-30 students with these novel names.  I had enough problems remembering names when they were the old ones like Bill and Mary.  Every semester I would face new students and face the challenge of remembering their names.  In fact, the last few years of teaching I would take pictures of groups of my students and then use these to attempt to memorize their names.  Usually after a few weeks I would finally be successful.  But years later I have forgotten most of them.
         I admit that I still have that problem today.  I am often embarrassed when I can't remember the names of folks in church and in the community that I have met.  And the older I get, the worse it becomes.
          Now not everybody has the same problem with names that I have.  When we used to be in charge of the children at Pinebrook, we would often have 70 -90 children for the week.  The first morning my wife would use her vent dummy and interview each of the kids.  By that evening she would know most of their names.  By the closing on Friday I would be fortunate if I remembered 25% of them.  And the following year I would need to start all over again.
          But names are important.  We all like to be recognized and called by our correct name.  I am impressed when somebody that I don't see very often calls me by my correct name and remembers things, hopefully good things, about me.
         But there is one who does know us by name and He knows all about us - our thoughts, our needs, and our future.  And of course I am talking about that one who has the greatest name known unto man, Jesus.  One of my favorite choruses encourages me as it shares that truth.  Here are the words.

I have a Maker, He formed my heart
Before even time began, My life was in his hands
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call

I have a Father, He calls me His own
He'll never leave me, No matter where I go
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
And He hears me when I call

Bridge
He knows me, He loves me, He wants me
He hears me when I call
He formed me, He sees me, never leaves me,
He hears me when I call 

You can listen to it here.  LISTEN

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Prayer For Aging


         Now I understand that some of my readers aren't yet thinking about aging.  Most of us don't think about it until suddenly our bodies alert us to unexpected physical changes.  So if this poem isn't for you … at least not yet … maybe you can share it with one who will understand and be helped by this prayer.
          The older I become, the more I understand why some seniors are so lonely and why some become depressed, negative and bitter.  It is hard to accept the changing world around you when your body is suddenly changing.  Nobody ever really warns us about these years and it is a real test of faith to accept them with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving.
          So maybe this prayer, written by Sr. Moya Hanlen, will remind you to think about our dependence upon the Lord, especially as we age.


PRAYER FOR AGING

ALL GLORIOUS GOD, You have given me all I am and have,
and now I give it back to You to stand under Your will alone.
In a special way I give You these later days of my life.
I am one of those called by You into old age, a call not given to all,
not given to Jesus, not given to most in our world today.
I humbly ask You, grace me deeply in each aspect of that struggle.
As my physical eyesight weakens,
may the eyes of my faith strengthen
that I may see You and Your Love in everything.
As my hearing fails, may the ears of my heart
be more sensitive to the whisper of Your gentle voice.
As my legs weaken and walking becomes more difficult,
may I walk more truly in Your paths,
knowing all the while that I am held in the embrace of Your love.
As my mind becomes less alert and memory fades
may I remain peaceful in You,
aware that with You there is no need for thought or word.
You ask simply that I be there, with You.
And should sickness overtake me and I be confined to bed,
may I know myself as one with Your Son as he offers his life for
the salvation of the world.
Finally, as my heart slows a little after the work of the years,
may it expand in love for you and all people.
May it rest secure and grateful in Your loving Heart
until I am lost in You, completely and forever.
Amen 

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Wait ... Wait ... Wait



        "But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint."  Isaiah 40:31.  Those are the words that I read every morning when I get out of bed.  They are on a plaque  that is hanging on our wall.  It is a plaque that we gave to my father many years ago.

         Waiting is a part of each of our lives and often it creates frustration for us.  Friday morning I had two stops to make which I thought together would take just an hour.  But it took me almost three hours to complete them.  First I had a doctor's appointment - his first of the day.  I arrived at the time they requested only to find the office had not yet opened.  When it finally opened I had to wait until they were able to check me in.  When the preliminaries were al completed I had to wait about 25 minutes more for the doctor to arrive.  Then I had to wait in a long line to get checked out.  Next I went to get our car washed and I waited in line because there was a lengthy problem with four out of state cars in front of me.  Then I had to wait in line for the wash because two "priority" customers were allowed to get in line ahead of me.  Finally I got to the place where the interior was to be cleaned to find that they only had two workers there and I was fourth in line. Oh yes, on the way home I had to wait for road construction. Wait, wait, wait.
          Now waiting takes different forms at different times in our lives.  When we are kids we can't wait for our birthday or for Christmas or a trip to Disney.  As we get older we can't wait until we can drive or graduate from high school.  I remember that when I first went away to college I waited to see my family once again.  When we were separated I waited to see my future wife again and the time seemed to pass so slowly.
          Sometimes as adults we wait for minor things - a traffic light to change, a line at the grocery store, an appointment, a return phone call, the start of a game, a visit by a friend, or some important mail.  Wait, wait, wait.
          But as we get older, waiting can often be very stressful and difficult.  We wait to see if we get hired.  Then we may wait to get our annual evaluations and see if we still have a job.  We might wait to get a mortgage approved.  We might wait for the birth of a child.  We might wait for the diagnosis of a health problem and key tests to come back.  We might wait as a loved one goes through surgery.  There are just so many situations where we wait and we wait and we wait ..
          Sometimes we wish that we could be an eagle and fly above the things making us wait. And at times we try to run and we do get weary.  It is so easy to become impatient, especially when God doesn't seem to hear or answer our prayers.  But He is there and we need to trust Him and wait upon Him.  For He knows our ways and our future and He is a loving Father who will work His plan for our lives.
         In May of this year I saw a neurosurgeon about my back, my balance and my headaches.  A series of tests showed that I needed a second round of cervical spine and lumbar spine surgeries.  So we began the lengthy process of pre-op procedures and finally in September a date was set for the first surgery, a cervical spine surgery.  But as that date approached my wife had two stays in the hospital.  Since I would not be able to drive for at least a month nor lift more than five pounds for a few months, it was imperative that she was string enough to care for me.
         So we rescheduled the surgery and set a second date.  As we waited for that date she ended up in the hospital again and we were forced to reschedule once again.  The third date was set for October 30.  Then I developed some new problems and needed more testing.  The tests were completed on a Friday and I waited and waited and waited for the results.  They finally arrived Wednesday night and I was cleared for surgery.  Then it was more  waiting - for October 30.
          Hopefully the waiting will be over when I enter the hospital on October 30.  I enter at 5:30 am for the 3 to 4 hour surgery scheduled to begin at 7:30.  If all goes well I should be out of the recovery room by 1 pm.  Please pray that it will go smoothly.  Pray for my wife as she waits for the results.  Then long term, please pray that we can find somebody to handle our snow removal this winter since neither of us will be allowed to do it.  And so far we have had zero success in finding anybody, even professionals who are already booked.  This is a major need. and I pray that we have the patience to wait and see how God works this out.
          We are waiting on the Lord and trusting His promise to  renew our strength; to help us to mount up with wings as eagles; to run and not be weary; and to walk and not faint."

1.     In His time, In His time,
He makes all things beautiful in His time.
Lord please show me every day
As You're teaching me Your way
That You do just what You say 
In Your time.

2.   In Your time, in Your time,
You make all things beautiful in Your time.
Lord my life to You I bring 
May each song I have to sing
Be to you a lovely thing 
In Your time.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Lessons To Be Learned


          You've probably seen some of the many lists that people have made which begin with "Everything I Needed To Know About Life I Learned From .....".  This phrase is completed with a particular Item, such as "Kindergarten".  Then the author goes on to list some clever and sometimes humorous items.
          Now I realize that these are created in jest and I hope they aren't taken too seriously.  For what I needed to know about life I learned through the Bible, through the lives of my parents, my grandparents and many of my relatives.  I also learned through good teaching and preaching, through good role models and through spending time with the Lord in meditation and prayer.  And I would never want to minimize these by sharing one of these lists.
         Now I share all of that because somebody recently gave me a list which ended in ... from a jigsaw puzzle.  Now this person knew that my wife and I enjoy doing jigsaw puzzles.  We almost always have one going in our family room.  It is a hobby that we share together and have done so for many years.  And we both do them differently.  My wife is good at matching colors and I am not.  I am good at matching shapes and finding things from the puzzle picture.  We make a good team.
         But a Jacquie Sewell compiled a list of principles that can be learned if you are patient enough to put puzzles together.
1.   Don't force a fit  If something is meant to be, it will come together naturally. 
2.   When things aren't going so well, take a break. Everything will look different when you return. 
3.   Be sure to look at the big picture. Getting hung up on the little pieces only leads to frustration. 
4.   Perseverance pays off. Every important puzzle went together bit by bit, piece by piece. 
5.   When one spot stops working, move to another. But be sure to come back later (see #4).
6.   The creator of the puzzle gave you the picture as a guidebook. Refer to the Creator's guidebook often. 
7.   Variety is the spice of life. It's the different colors and patterns that make the puzzle interesting. 
8.   Working together with friends and family makes any task fun. 
9.   Establish the border first. Boundaries give a sense of security and order. 
10.   Don't be afraid to try different combinations. Some matches are surprising. 
11.   Take time often to celebrate your successes (even little ones). 
12.   Anything worth doing takes time and effort. A great puzzle can't be rushed. 
13.   When you finally reach the last piece, don't be sad. Rejoice in the masterpiece you've made and enjoy a well-deserved rest.
          So there you are.  If you are looking for a good hobby, take up putting jigsaw puzzles together.  I highly recommend it and will be glad to share some with you   But here is a better way to learn the real lessons of life.

Teach me Thy way, O Lord,
  Teach me Thy way;
Thy gracious aid afford,
  Teach me Thy way.
Help me to walk aright;
More by faith, less by sight;
Lead me with heav’nly light,
  Teach me Thy way.

When doubts and fears arise,
  Teach me Thy way;
When storms o’erspread the skies,
  Teach me Thy way.
Shine through the cloud and rain,
Through sorrow, toil, and pain;
Make Thou my pathway plain,
  Teach me Thy way.

Long as my life shall last,
  Teach me Thy way;
Where’er my lot be cast,
  Teach me Thy way.
Until the race is run,
Until the journey’s done,
Until the crown is won,

  Teach me Thy way.