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, January 28, 2017

Senior Encouragement

          I don't know if you are a senior, but if you aren''t you probably have relationships with seniors at home, in your neighborhood and especially in your church.  I recently read an interesting article on the internet about "Five Ways to Motivate and Encourage Seniors", written by Preston Ni in Psychology Today. It is an excerpt from his book: "How to Communicate Effectively with Seniors".  I thought that it was worth sharing with others.  So here is what Dr. Ni has to suggest.
          The post-World War II Baby Boomer Generation (born 1946-1964) is reaching their senior years in ever-growing numbers, and representing an increasingly larger segment of the population. Higher standards of living and medical advancements are extending life expectancies in many countries to well above the age of eighty.  Caring for, and having successful relationships with older adults often require unique interpersonal skills and strategies. Below are five ways to encourage and motivate older adults.

1.  Encourage Few and Manageable Goals
Primary Needs Fulfilled: Independence, Relevance.
Secondary Needs Fulfilled: Companionship, Security.
          Young people and adults in their prime are frequently reminded to set and accomplish goals. Goals can be beneficial for many older adults as well. Being goal oriented can instill motivation, a sense of purpose, and pride in accomplishment. In the cases of seniors, create few and manageable goals daily, be it doing ten stretches, completing a small craft project, or something as simple as finishing a cup of juice. Facilitate and assist along the way. Offer encouragement with each baby step, and compliment when the task is complete. Being acknowledged for completing a seemingly simple task (to us) can sometimes make a senior's day!

2.  Encourage Affirming Self-Identify

Primary Needs Fulfilled: Relevance.
Secondary Needs Fulfilled: Companionship, Emotional Security.
          "Many, many elderly have such fascinating life stories. If only someone would listen." — From the Internet
         It may be hard for some to imagine, but every older adult was at one time young, and likely full of energy, passions, ambitions, and dreams. Their younger days, if you care to ask them, were often full of adventures, romances, and many other tales from their book of life. Many, if you only care to learn, would be happy to share stories with you, show you pictures and objects, and reminisce in the glories of their past.
          If the older adult lives away from her or his own home, such as at a long-term care facility, surround the living environment of the senior with positive memory anchors such as photos, postcards, posters, artifacts, fragrances, music, movies, trophies, honors and awards, etc. Let these items increase the richness of the older adult's living environment, and serve as easy conversation topics. If you're a family member, with each visit bring one or two items which may help the older adult evoke pride or fond memories from the past. Ask questions, and listen to the tales.
          Encouraging an older adult to construct her or his biography by articulating an oral and/or written history is a wonderful form of psychological resourcing which keeps the elderly cognitively, emotionally and socially active. It enhances self-esteem, and uplifts the spirit. As you listen to the stories, ask questions to deepen the rich and vivid details of their recollections. Watch her face light up and her smile widen as she shares her tale.

3.  Encourage Technologies
Primary Needs Fulfilled: Companionship, Relevance.
Secondary Needs Fulfilled: Independence, Security.
          The internet and social networking are wonderful opportunities for older adults. More and more seniors are connecting with family and friends via technology. Family and friends, in turn, often find such connections convenient and less stressful. In addition to social benefits, on-line connections also provide regular chances for family and friends to "check in" on the seniors' physical, mental, and emotional well-being that would otherwise not be possible. Connecting on the internet does not replace the physical intimacy and emotional closeness that may come with face to face interactions. However, many older adults would feel much more alone without social networking. Studies show that social networking platforms that were once populated primarily by young people are now increasingly embraced by older adults.

4.  Encourage the Feeling of Usefulness
Primary Needs Fulfilled: Relevance, Independence.
Secondary Needs Fulfilled: Companionship, Security.
          Many cognitively active older adults want to feel a sense of usefulness, even if their physical functions are limited. Identify and introduce conversational topics or tasks where the senior can feel wanted and needed. For example:  Ask them for advice on practical as well as important life matters. Converse with them like they're mentors.  Ask for their opinions on certain decisions you need to make.    Introduce manageable projects or tasks for them to be in charge of where they'll feel a sense of accomplishment.
          (Personal note - In my opinion this is one area where most churches fail today.  Seniors and their experience are not valued or used.)

5.  Encourage Adaptive, Flexible Coping skills
Primary Needs Fulfilled: Independence, Security.
Secondary Needs Fulfilled: Relevance.
          As an older adult experiences increased cognitive and/or physical limitation, facilitate various types of coping skills to help the senior adjust with dignity. These can include:
 but workable goals as previously mentioned.
Divide and conquer: break tasks down into baby steps that are more manageable.
Assist the senior in identifying more realistic goals.
Assist the senior in selecting alternative means to accomplishing goals.
Allowing the senior to do what she's able, while helping just enough to complete a goal.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Legacy, part 2

          In my previous blog I began to list some ideas of praying for grandchildren - or others - by using the fruit of the spirit.  These were developed by Lillian Ann Penner in her book "Grandparenting with a Purpose" by Redemption Press.  I would suggest that you purchase a copy of this book for many great ideas on providing a godly legacy for your family.  Now let me continue with six more sets of prayer ideas.

4.  PATIENCE - Patience is the capacity to be patient, showing self-control, or bearing pain or trials without complaining.  It is being calm, steadfast, and persevering, even while waiting.
*  Ask God to grant patience in the hearts of our grandchildren, as He refines them to become all He wants them to be.
*  Pray for them to have patience when waiting for God to answer their prayers because very often their timing is not God's timing.
*  Pray that they will learn to be patient and tolerant with their family members and friends.

5.  KINDNESS - Kindness is having compassion and sympathy, being gentle, thoughtful, considerate, and helpful.
*  Pray for your grandchildren to choose to sow seeds of kindness, since kindness is a deliberate action.
*  Pray they will look for places to plant seeds in random acts of kindness.
*  Pray they will be kind, thoughtful, considerate and helpful with family members and with their friends and classmates.

6.  GOODNESS - Goodness is being kind, friendly, well behaved, admirable, honest, sincere and of reliable character.
*  Pray your grandchildren will choose to have goodness in their hearts.
*  Pray your grandchildren will sow seeds of goodness to others.
*  Pray your grandchildren will be well behaved and of reliable character.

7.  FAITHFULNESS - Faithfulness is being true, real, loyal, trustworthy, reliable and committed.
*  Pray your grandchildren will see God's faithfulness to them and grow strong in their spiritual loves.
*  Pray they will be able to place their complete trust in God.
*  Pray they will be dependable, reliable, loyal and trustworthy and do what is right.

8.  GENTLENESS - To be gentle one is tenderhearted, calm, kind, quiet, peaceful and well mannered.
*  Pray your grandchild will have a tender heart with a gentle spirit.
*  Pray your grandchild will have a calm, peaceful spirit and be well mannered.
*  Pray they will be considerate of the feelings and needs of others.

9.  SELF-CONTROL - To have self-control one needs to have self-discipline, willpower, restraint, and the ability to control one's own behavior, especially in reactions and impulses.
*  Pray our grandchildren will desire a heart of self-control.
*  Pray they will learn to control their behavior and their tongues.
*  Pray they will recognize when Satan is tempting them and wants to steal their hearts.
*  Pray they will use self-discipline to stand firm in the Lord.

Now that is a very comprehensive list of things to pray for.  I am trying to incorporate these ideas into my prayer life, not only for my grandchildren but also for my own life.  I would encourage you to do the same.  

Thank you Lillian Ann Penner for developing and sharing these important suggestions.

("Grandparenting with a Purpose", by Lillian Ann Penner, Redemption Press, 2010)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Legacy, Part 1

           One of the biggest concerns in my life is leaving a godly legacy for my family.  It probably is extra important for me because those in my family who went before me left me such a wonderful legacy which has directed my life.  I was blest with parents, grandparents, generations of great grandparents, and uncles and aunts who served the Lord and gave me examples of godly living.
          And probably the most important and difficult step of leaving a godly legacy is the example of the life that you live day be day.  And that is a daily challenge.
          But there are so many other practical things that one can do for future generations and these are things that interest me as well.  One of these is sharing important things with future generations from your life and the lives of your ancestors .  Over the years I have prepared over 150 pages of identified pictures and writings about these things and have shared them in a book with my grandchildren.  I try to add a few pages to this every Christmas.  If you are interested, some of these can be found at fbfawana.com.
          I've learned that another vital part of this process is prayer.  I have tried to pray daily for each of my sons, their spouses,  my grandchildren and their future spouses even before they were born. My prayers have included requests for special things like tests, safety, health problems, friendships, needs, decisions, etc.  But all of my prayers have been for their salvation and for the development of a passion for loving and serving the Lord.  I've also prayed daily for future spouses who love and serve the Lord and will establish a godly home..  Part of my legacy is having parents, grandparents and uncles and aunts who over the years did the same for me.
          I also enjoy reading articles and books that share thoughts about leaving a godly legacy.  Recently I have been working through a small book, "Grandparenting with a Purpose" by Lillian Ann Penner.   Her emphasis is on finding effective ways to pray for your grandchildren.  And I have been impressed with her suggestions including adapting various scriptures into specific prayers for your grandchildren.  I had never really thought about that idea before.
          One of her ideas really impressed me enough that I thought that I needed to share it  with you and find a way to incorporate it into my prayer life.  She suggests praying for the fruit of the spirit.  And I have decided to share her ideas in this blog and, because of its length, probably in my next blog as well.  Here is what Lillian Ann Penner has suggested.

1.     LOVE  - Love is an intense feeling of tender affection and compassion.  It is unselfish, loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another.
*  Ask God to plant His love in the hearts of your grandchildren so they will be aware of His presence at all times.
*  Pray they will invite Him into their hearts and be rooted and established in His love and His Word.
*  Pray that they will allow God's love to flow through them to their families, friends and others.

2.     JOY - Joy is a feeling of great pleasure.  It is to delight in something.  It is also evoked by well-being and success.
*  Ask God to plant a joyful, happy heart in your grandchildren.
*  Pray they will find joy in being successful in school and their other activities.
*  Ask God to enable them to experience the joy of the Lord as their strength, especially when going through difficult circumstances.

3.   PEACE - Peace is a state of calmness and quiet.  It is freedom from disturbing thoughts of emotion.  When one experiences peace, he or she feels secure and in harmony with their personal relationships.
*  Ask God to plant His presence in the lives of our grandchildren so they will grow strong and have quiet, calm spirits in their hearts.
*  Pray that they will experience God's peace, even when going through difficult situations.
*  Pray that God's peace will overflow from their hearts to others.
*  Pray they will feel secure in their family and school situations.

Now there are six more which I will share in my next blog.  And while these are designed for grandchildren, they certainly could be applied to others - our friends, our spouses and even ourselves.

("Grandparenting with a Purpose", by Lillian Ann Penner, Redemption Press, 2010)

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Powerful Words

          Among the things that I inherited from my parents are a number of pictures and mottos that had hung for years in their home.  Each of them have special meanings and bring back great memories to me whenever I see them.
          One of these is an old print of the first verse and chorus of "What God Hath Promised" penned in 1919 by Annie J. Flint (1866 - 1932).  There are several reasons that I value this print.  First, of course, are the profound words which are great reminders of the way God works in our lives.  But secondly, this print hung in the Spring City parsonage where my father was raised.  According to the note written on the back, this hung there in the 1920's which would have been just a few years after Flint penned the words almost a century ago.
          If you read my hymn blog, you might remember how often I remark that so many great hymns were penned in times of grief or by authors who were going through very difficult times.  Such was the case with Annie Flint.
          As I understand it, Annie and her sister were sent to live with a widow following the death of their mother.  Evidently they were unwelcome and unwanted by the widow who had two children of her own and had very few resources to support them.  Later the girls were adopted by a couple named Flint whose name they took.  But the death of their adopted parents, within a few months of each other, left the girls alone again.
          As an adult she took a job teaching.  According to her contract with the normal school she was hired for three years. But early in the second year arthritis began to show itself. She tried several doctors, but it steadily grew worse until it became difficult for her to walk at all. She had a hard time finishing out the third year. After that she was obliged to give up her work and there followed years of increasing helplessness
          With a pen pushed through bent fingers and held by swollen joints, she wrote first without any thought that it might be an avenue of ministry or that it would bring her returns that might help in her support. Her verses provided a solace for her in the long hours of suffering. Then she began making hand-lettered cards and gift books, and decorated some of her own verses.  One of her sweetest sonnets, which she says was born of the experience of another person, would never have found expression if it had not been for her own trials. The special incident that drew it forth was the visit of a little, tired, discouraged deaconess. She used to call and tell her troubles to Annie, and when she left and went back to the west, she wrote saying how blue she felt, and how down hearted she was. She didn't see why God allowed such hard things to come into her life. Annie put her answer in a poem. Nothing sweeter ever came from her pen. She titled it "What God Hath Promised."
          Among other hymns that she wrote is one of my very favorite, "He Giveth More Grace". This is another powerful reminder of God's presence in our lives in both the good days and the challenging days.  He giveth and giveth and giveth again.
          For more than forty years there was scarcely a day when she did not suffer pain. For thirty-seven years she became increasingly helpless. Her joints had become rigid, although she was able to turn her head and in great pain write a few lines on paper. But through her pain she was able to write many poems which still inspire and encourage people today.  If you are interested in her complete life story and her writings, here is a good site to check out.   FLINT
          Here, for your encouragement, are the words of the poem/hymn which now hang on our bedroom wall.  I marvel that they were penned by a woman who suffered so intensely but yet had a special relationship with the Lord which we too can have.

God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through;
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

God hath not promised we shall not know
Toil and temptation, trouble and woe;
He hath not told us we shall not bear
Many a burden, many a care.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

God hath not promised smooth roads and wide,
Swift, easy travel, needing no guide;
Never a mountain rocky and steep,
Never a river turbid and deep.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.

Here is a link to this hymn being sung.    LISTEN