Saturday, June 16, 2018

Life Interrupted

A successful life is to be enjoyed, celebrated, and always on an upward path to happiness. Or so we are told.  Most of us believe this and do everything we can to ensure this positive outcome for the years we are given.

Celebrities seem to have all the good things of life. Check-out line magazines glamorize their lifestyles and scandalous behavior. Successful sports stars and Hollywood types become the role models young people want to emulate. 

The shocking news of two celebrities that committed suicide reveals a different reality than the tabloids. Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain appeared to have it all—success, fame, fortune, and a glamourous lifestyle. The dark thoughts and struggles they experienced were kept well hidden from the public. The teenage daughters they left behind will face their grief with more questions than answers.

Yesterday, two Kansas City deputies were shot to death as they were transporting an inmate from jail to the courthouse. Apparently the inmate overpowered the officers in the police car. It is such a tragic ending for those trying to do their job and uphold the law.  Several children no longer will have their mother and father in their lives.

Life was turned upside down for two friends from our church whose daughter died from Sepsis after going to the hospital with a kidney stone. No parent expects to outlive their children and that grief seems more difficult to bear. Such an event leaves one feeling helpless and hopeless.

I know that our friends’ daughter believed in Jesus and that her parents will take comfort and encouragement from two Bible verses that speak on the subject of grief. The Apostle Paul wrote:

Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who are without hope.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Grief is a darkness that all of us will experience at some point in our lives, but a very necessary process that leads to healing. The difference for the Christian is that we have the ability to grieve with hope–knowing that this life isn’t the end. Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome knowing he would soon experience his own death:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Ghost.” Romans 15:13 

The older I get the more I am aware of the brevity of this life. Like many of you I’ve experienced seasons of grief and probably will again in the future. I pray that all of us who grieve will find the hope that only faith in Jesus Christ can give.

Stages of Grief

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Where Are the Kids?

As a teenager growing up in the 1950s, I was taught that future runaway population growth would result in catastrophic food shortages and death on an unprecedented scale. Sixty years later, the opposite is proving to be true in many parts of the world. Two recent internet articles discuss the threat of a declining birth rate to the stability of Japan, Europe, and America. The abandonment of parenthood and a shrinking population is already having serious sociological effects on society today that will not bode well for the future.   

In The Atlantic magazine in June 2017, Alana Semuels wrote an article entitled The Mystery of Why Japanese People Are Having So Few Babies. According to her research, the work culture of Japan contributed to fewer than 1 million births last year and the lowest number in over a century. “Japan’s birth rate may be falling because there are fewer good opportunities for young people, and especially men, in the country’s economy.” Unsteady part-time employment is taking the place of regular employment with good benefits and dependable raises. Men are not considered good marriage material for Japanese women unless they have job security. Women, too, are working long hours and are less likely to want to add children to their already stressed lives.

Europeans and Americans are postponing or abandoning marriage and parenting at unprecedented rates. In Europe, the citizens are only following the pattern of their leaders. 
The eight leaders of mainline European countries have only two children among them.

Jeremy Carl writes for FOX online news, Here’s why it matters that Americans are having fewer children than ever before. He points out that “People having fewer or no children at all may seem at first blush to be simply making a personal choice, of consequence only to themselves. However, this decision is actually one with profound political implications.” Many in the higher income levels, who can afford to raise their children, are choosing to have fewer children or none at all.” Those in lower income levels or in single family homes are experiencing a higher birth rate with fewer financial resources to finance their upbringing. The political and cultural landscape will also be affected by a growing number of legal and illegal immigrants who tend to produce more children.

Another factor is the high abortion rate. Covenant Care Adoptions of Georgia posted the following statistic from 2014. During that year, there were 30,013 abortions in the state compared to 381 infant adoptions. 82% of people with unwanted pregnancies chose to abort their pregnancies instead of allowing those babies to be born and placed in loving families. It makes my heart hurt just to think about it.

What are the implications of those statistics? (three serious and one humorous)
  • ·        No longer will society be structured around family units.
  • ·        Future taxpaying workers will bear a greater burden to support an aging population.
  • ·        Interaction between varying age groups will diminish.
  • ·        More incontinence products will be sold than baby diapers.

I can’t imagine my life without my children and grandchildren.  They bring so much joy and sometimes heartache to my life, but it is all worth it. Someone posted on Facebook that "the best part of growing old is grandchildren."  It's is also  a delight to be around the children in our church and to see the future in their eyes. 

Two Bible verses sum up the importance of children for a fulfilling life.

Psalm 127:3-5 “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” 

 “Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth.” Genesis 1:28

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Reasons to Celebrate

The month of May provides me with many opportunities to celebrate life.

We just returned from a whirlwind trip to Memphis, Tennessee where Charles met with sixteen other graduates from the Whitehaven Class of 1948 for their 70th reunion. Lots of stories were shared about the original class of 134. The lives of the students were greatly impacted by the Great Depression and the onset of World War II, and although too young to serve, did their part on the home front. May 8 is V-E Day when the Nazi’s surrendered and the war in Europe came to an end. Those who served and those on the home front built their lives around faith, family, and friendships forged during those crucial years.

On May 12, I will celebrate my 20th liver-versary. No one could have convinced me in 1998 that I would be alive to write about my transplant twenty years later. I’d been too sick for too long. But by the Grace of God and gift of modern medicine, here I am with many good years still ahead. As I wrote in my book, Born Three Times—A New Life, A New Liver, A New Love, “I’ll always be grateful to a family of strangers who decided to donate their loved one’s organs in their time of great loss.” My goal has been to make that sacrifice worthwhile while living a life that honors their memory and honors God.

Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday. I am a blessed mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. My life is so much richer because of my two sons and Charles’ son and daughter who treat me like a Mom.  Raising Stuart and Michael was challenging because of our health issues. I was sick with liver disease during their later childhood, and both boys inherited auto-immune issues that they still live with today. All three of us have become faith-filled survivors because of our experiences with poor health. Many of my five granddaughters, four grandsons, and four great-grandchildren live in other states and times together are too few and very special.

Six years ago this month, I started this blog with a desire to connect on social media through short, inspirational articles for people of all ages and especially senior adults. This is blog post #142. Since inception, my blog has been viewed by almost 34,000 people in many countries and all continents. I’m thankful for all of you who take time to read my musings.  Your encouragement is what keeps me writing.

A verse from Psalm 16:11 sums up what is in my heart during this month of celebrations.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Unique Word - Coddiwomple

When we travel, our trips are all planned out. I make the reservations and an itinerary. We know where we are going and what we are going to do when we get there. Charles determines the best route using Google maps on his phone and the car’s inboard navigation screen as a backup. We do like some spontaneity, but hate getting lost. 

There are times when living the RV lifestyle sounds very appealing. Load up the vehicle and take off for points unknown. In other words,

Coddiwomple --- “travel in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination.”

We have been traveling toward a vague destination with our company for the past fifteen years. Charles filed his patent for his drag-reducing devices in 2003 and we have been on the road to uncertainty ever since. The plan was to receive Federal Aviation Agency certification during 2017, but that got moved to April and now to June of this year. So, we continue to coddiwomple along doing what’s necessary to hit a moving target—like the proverbial rabbit running after a carrot on a stick.

Coddiwomple also reminds me of the Old Testament story of the Patriarch Abram in the book of Genesis. The Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. (Genesis 12:1)

“So, Abram went as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran.  He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.” (Genesis 12:4-5)

Abram received a major testing of his patience and faith. Abram and his wife were senior adults by today’s standards. They seriously disrupted their settled lives to follow God’s call, which is not something most of us want to do.  Not knowing where they were going or when they would arrive meant they had to trust the process and the One who sent them on their mission. Abram and his family arrived at their destination and they were abundantly blessed by God for their obedience.

And we are blessed today because he obeyed.  As Abram (later Abraham) occupied the land where God sent him, his family became the people of promise who centuries later would bear witness to the birth of Jesus. His life, death, and resurrection allow us to travel this life looking forward to not a vague destination but a heavenly one.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Unique Word-- Cattywampus


I like words.  As a writer, I try to use simple, ordinary words that everyone can understand.  Sometimes I run across words that are very interesting and fun to use. During the next few blogs I want to share some unique words that may or may not be familiar. Cattywampus describes things that are askew or awry, and can be used for intersections that don’t meet in a straight line. There are a lot of intersections like that in Georgia.  No wonder we have so many streets named “Peachtree.”

Fall Clothes 
Spring has finally arrived in Georgia—warmer temperatures in the 70’s. For weeks, the weather has yo-yoed from warm to freezing making clothing choices a challenge. The weather has been cattywampus and not what we normally expect during April.  Every April and October, I transition my closet to the next season. I am so done with cold weather by April, the dark colored sweaters and corduroy pants beg to be put away for the next six months.  In October, I’m not quite so eager to put up the shorts and sandals.  But as soon as I make the closet transition in spring or fall, the hot or cold weather returns making me dig back through my storage boxes. Someone who knows me well laughs and tells me not to transition my clothes or the weather will rebel once again.

Watching the news is unsettling. Unsettling and cattywampus events dominate the headlines. International turmoil and the threat of war are served up daily.  The political news close to home is even more worrisome. Another election in November will determine the direction of the country for years to come.

Our natural inclination in dealing with turmoil is anxiety, which can be helped by looking at the Scriptures and applying its truth to our lives.  For example, it’s been over two weeks since Easter 2018 when we celebrated the greatest event in Christianity. I often wonder how Jesus’s disciples dealt with their anxiety in the days and weeks following the crucifixion and resurrection. They had responded to the call of Jesus to “follow me” only to discover everything they had signed on for was now cattywampus and upside down. Jesus didn’t overthrow Roman rule and become a Jewish king like David. Instead he instituted the kingdom of God in the hearts and minds of his followers. It would have been much easier for them to make plans for a government takeover than model lives of sacrificial love and forgiveness that Jesus required.  When Jesus appeared to them before ascending into heaven, he told them to wait for further instruction. 

Waiting is very hard for most of us when everything is cattywampus.  We want to fix our problems and change our circumstances. RIGHT NOW.  Waiting for God to work is very difficult if we are action-oriented people. Perhaps that why so many of us are told to wait and watch to see what the Lord is going to do.

Psalm 40:1 “I waited patiently for the LORD; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

It will be worth being patient when God acts and our waiting is over.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

I Can Only Imagine

This past weekend we went with friends from church to see the movie “I Can Only Imagine.” The uplifting song with the same title—with 2.5 million copies sold—is the best-selling Christian single of all time. The inspiring words describe what the writer imagines it will be like when he goes to heaven and stands before God.  

Bart Millard wrote the lyrics in 1999 and his band MercyMe recorded it shortly after. The song has been described as a ‘rush of hope’ for people experiencing loss, illness, and other traumatic events. In the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many found solace in its lyrics.

Eighteen years later the story behind the song is now in movie theaters. Bart Millard’s story is deeply personal and painful. His abusive childhood destroyed his relationship with his earthly father. Many years later his father found the Lord as he was dying from cancer. The pain of losing his father after he had reconciled with him was Bart’s inspiration for the song. 

So much of life is like that. We live in a pain-filled world. All of us can identify with the need to forgive and the desire for reconciliation with a family member, friend, and with God. The recent school shootings, bombings, and personal tragedies leave us wondering about life and death. Does any of it make any sense? It only does if we can look beyond the pain to a better future.

As we approach Holy Week and the celebration of Easter, I am reminded of the great pain and sacrifice the Son of God made for our salvation. On the last night before Jesus’ crucifixion, he tried to prepare his disciples for the future.

“In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:2-3

A recent online Fox News article reports on a speech from the Vatican in which the Pope spoke about the use of the crucifix as jewelry.

“Pope Francis said that the crucifix is a religious sign to be contemplated and understood, rather than merchandised. He said that the crucifix is a sacred sign not to be "abused" by being treated as an ornament or clothing accessory. The image of Jesus crucified reveals the mystery of the death of the Son as the supreme act of love, the source of life and salvation for humanity of all times." By Daniel Hammond and Ruth Gledhill, SWNS | Fox News

I can’t agree more. An empty Easter cross makes a much better piece of jewelry because it celebrates resurrection, new life, and hope. It makes it possible for me to sing along with Bart Millard and MercyMe. 

I Can Only Imagine

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Rose Colored Glasses

It’s time to put on my rose-colored sunglasses. Last fall my new, burgundy-tinted shades revealed the changing autumn leaves in full Technicolor. The reds, oranges, and yellows were bright and vibrant.  When I removed my glasses, the leaves reverted to a more subdued shade of red or gold. Spring color is exploding in Georgia and I want to once again experience God’s creation on steroids. The daffodils will be a brighter yellow and flowering red buds almost purple through my rosy spectacles.

After a cold, rainy winter my aching bones are ready to experience spring. I will gladly throw the heavy coat, gloves, and boots into the back of the closet and choose more lightweight, carefree options. I know my friends in my birth state of New York have no pity for me as they are buried under almost two feet of heavy, wet snow. Whenever I am tempted to complain about our cold March temperatures, I think about them and stop whining.  

It’s also been a winter of discontent in our country. The discouraging daily news with shootings, political infighting, and natural disasters weighs as heavy as a soggy snowfall. The daily dose of realism on TV and online seems to rule the day leaving little room for peace of mind and a positive attitude. A verse in the Bible keeps me from feeling negative about life.

The Apostle Paul admonished the Christians in Philippi to filter their thinking through God’s rose-colored glasses. 

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8 (ESV)

He explained that right thinking was the key to experiencing the peace of God. He encouraged the believers in Philippi to focus on those things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and praiseworthy. Paul implied that a change in thinking— seeing things with God’s perspective— can bring peace in the midst of difficult circumstances.

This verse tells me I can avoid anxiety by looking for something praiseworthy in every situation. Inner peace is contagious and other people will notice and want to know your secret. Then you can share with them how God’s rose-colored glasses can help them see life differently too.