Our New Home

Our New Home
I love all the summer greenery around our home!

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Winds of Change are Blowing!



I found myself in a moment of quiet reflection this morning as our new dog Fiver and I stood looking out the sliding window in our dining room mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the early hour that captured our imaginations…  Yesterday afternoon my wife and I saddled the pony and drove the Mustang into town to get some garden supplies at our local Home Depot.  

One of those supplies was trimmer line for my gas powered string trimmer.  Later that afternoon we all went outside where I restrung the trimmer and proceeded to cut down the tall grass around the corners of the back lot and the other nooks and crannies not accessible by the riding mower.

So, as we stood at the window this morning, I found myself enjoying the clean and crisp product of my labors.  Besides the finished look of the yard, I also enjoyed watching the various birds as they fluttered and sung their morning tunes among the trees, the crickets, abundance of butterflies and the close-up rumble of a local freight train as it passed beyond our sight and sounded it whistle while it crossed along the entrance to our rural sub-division.  With all that visual and acoustic activity, I could not help but sigh and thank the Lord for ALL that He has done for us over the years!

Today we experienced a somewhat resemblance of normalcy to our schedule that seems to have been slammed into turmoil over the last few weeks.  Piper had slept peacefully through the night and did not awake with hard jerks or shakes.  She finally seems to be responding to the new medication schedule and her body is healing after the shock of a couple of seizures and a fractured wrist.

All of that along with the cooler morning temperatures and the beauty that paraded in front of my eyes caused me to reflect on how we have responded to the demands of the changes in our lives throughout our marriage.  That’s when the phrase “Agents of Change” popped into my heart and mind.  I know that I have mentioned this before in past posts, but it seems like Piper and I were destined to be “Agents of Change” from our childhood days!  As I looked out the window into our backyard I also thought about how Papa God has prepared us for every change along the way.

Something we were watching on TV last night got me to thinking about our first camping adventure together as husband and wife that had begun on the third day of our honeymoon.  We spent the first two nights at a fancy resort on the pacific coast along the northern border of our home county.  Then we headed northeast and ended up in my favorite childhood campgrounds at Richardson Grove State Park.  What I pictured in my thoughts last night was how easily Piper seemed to fit into her new role on the first morning at camp while we worked together to get breakfast ready.

And even though her family were not campers or even outdoor enthusiasts, she acted like she’d done it all her life!  The smile on her face and the bounce in each step radiated a confidence that has followed her throughout her life!  Even though our marriage was brand spanking new… it was like we’d been married for years as we flowed together like a well-greased machine!

I don’t think I would have ever imagined that change in us a couple of weeks before that time… but you know… God had been preparing us throughout the five years of our courtship!  And as I thought about that this morning, I realized that this has been the pattern throughout the 46 years of our relationship.  I can look back at all that we have been through, both good and trying, and can now see how God made sure that we would be ready for each and every situation and chapter in our lives when they occurred.

So where does the phrase “Agents of Change” come into play?  I think the Lord was saying that this is what He has called all Christians to be!  I’m sure most of you have heard the saying that “The only thing constant in life is change,” well this morning I realized that as a Christian I would have to disagree with that statement.  For us, the only thing constant in our lives is Jesus Christ and the truth of His Word!  In John 14:6 Jesus replied to Thomas when he had a question about which direction in life to go saying: “I am the way, the truth and the life…” (God’s Word ©)

He was declaring that He was the road, the process to follow in this life, that His Word was what we should consider as the final word in any matter under consideration, and that a life that followed after Him would be one that is possessed by vitality or is animate while it is blessed of the Lord. (See: Strong’s and Thayer’s definitions for way, truth and life)  Then the writer of the book of Hebrews sealed the deal by stating that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 God’s Word ©)

So why I ask… do so many Christians have to fight against fear when change occurs in their lives?  With Jesus and His Word working for and through us, we should be the “Agents of Change” in this life for others to follow!  While I can agree with the Greek philosopher Heraclitus who is said to have coined the phrase about the constancy of change in our lives, I would finish the statement by giving into the truth and accompanying peace that comes as we yield any change unto Him and follow in the steps of His Word and promises!  For He always will prepare us for the change when it comes… if we trust, obey and then follow His way for us!  Thereby letting our lives be an example for others to follow.

This revelation has been one of the truths that keeps me going in the midst of the ever-changing landscape in Piper’s and my life right now.  Even when it seems like everything is hitting the fan, I am always assured that Papa God will have me prepared and able to take whatever action I am called upon to do!  Just like He has done over and over again throughout our lives!  With that knowledge I don’t have to waste time, energy or my peace in trying to guess what I think might be ahead for us!

So… Who or what is the constant in your life?  How do you handle change?  Who has the final say so in the situations and chapters of your life?  Would you consider yourself to be an “Agent of Change?”  Have a great rest of the week, and as you do keep asking yourself… “Who or What am I expecting to have the final word in the changes that occur in my life?”

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Daily Reset...



I was a thankful and happy camper this morning as my wife let me sleep in until 7:15 when she awoke needing her morning medications.  Yesterday was a long day due to the fact that I had been up since 5:30 AM attending to her needs.  But I did get a couple of short power naps that helped out immensely!  I was in a pretty good mood today until I attempted to heat up Piper’s breakfast which has evolved into a hot drink that I’ve come to name “Cocoa-Mocha-Cinna-Boost!”  It is a combination of fresh brewed coffee, a few dashes of cinnamon, a heaping tablespoon of Ovaltine and a bottle of Extra Rich Chocolate Boost Plus, topped with a sprinkling of marshmallows! 

She tells me that she enjoys it and I am comforted in knowing that she is receiving a good portion of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber with an extra amount of calories that helps to keep her weight normal.  The only problem this morning was that the microwave did not want to cooperate!  After pushing a variety of buttons without any success, I began to get frustrated and stomped into the dining room exclaiming that “It doesn’t work anymore!”  I realized at that point that my patience was on low ebb after many recent nights of minimal sleep and that I needed to pause and reset!

So I asked for the Lord’s assistance and went back into the kitchen and pulled open the “junk drawer” (you know… the one every kitchen has where all the stuff you don’t know what to do with goes…).  And as I fumbled through the owner’s manuals I had stacked in the drawer, I suddenly heard the voice of our youngest daughter’s husband making a remark concerning the last ditch effort he had made when problem solving our new entertainment system when it suddenly went down a few months back.  

He had laughed and commented with a chagrin on his face that he disconnected the plug from the wall for thirty seconds, plugged it back in and it reset itself… working like nothing ever happened!  So with a pause and a laugh I did the same to the microwave plug… and presto!  It reset itself and worked perfect again!

That got me to thinking about how many times each day that I have to reset my attitude!  Then when I sat down to study the Word a few moments later, I felt that the Lord wanted me to look at the word “Peace” as used throughout the Bible.  I did a quick search and discovered that in the King James Version it is referred to 429 times!  And while there are various Hebrew and Greek words that have been translated into English as “Peace” the most common usage in the OT is “shalom” meaning “safe, well, happy, friendly, also welfare, that is: health, prosperity and favor.” (Strong’s)  In the NT it is “eirene” defined in Thayer’s Greek Definitions as “security, prosperity, felicity” and “the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is.”

With that last thought in mind, I realized that I find myself constantly resetting my heart and mental attitudes to line up with Papa God’s definition of “Peace” for me as His child.  In the midst of stressful days like I’ve been experiencing during the last few weeks with a sudden negative spike in Piper’s situation, the acquisition of His “Peace” tends to play a major and foremost role in my physical consciousness!

I was reminded after my experience with the microwave today, that I’ve learned to be very much aware of the necessity to reset my heart and mind to filter everything through the gift of His “Peace” that Jesus Himself declared He was leaving with us!  In John 14:27 He stated: “Peace I am leaving behind for you.  Peace which is mine I am giving to you.  Not such as the world gives, do I give to you.  Let not your heart continue to be agitated, neither let it continue to be fearful.” (The New Testament, an expanded translation by Kenneth S. Wuest)

I love that verse as I came to the understanding a few months back that Jesus is plainly telling us that it is up to each one of us TO DO or NOT DO what it says!  He’s saying that He’s given us His peace, but it is a personal decision each of us has to make on a regular basis, for some… it may be multiple times a day… whether to actively believe it and walk in it or not!

With the pressure on these last couple of weeks, it is a decision that I consciously make each evening when I go to bed and first thing in the morning before my feet hit the floor!  I may have experienced one of the roughest days in my life in dealing with my wife’s situation, but I still stop and look upon the Lord each evening and reset my determination, my trust in the Lord and my personal fortitude so that I will continue to “Let Not” and “Neither Let” any fear to have any hold of me!

I have had to face fear every day since that fateful night in 2007 while standing in the cleaning aisle in the Garden Department of the South Tulsa Home Depot when I received the report back from the various scans that Piper had taken the day before.  Yes it shook me… Yes I had to make a beeline outside to the quiet solitude of the soils storage area in the far back of the department and try to capture some semblance of composure before going back to work… But at that moment, I turned it over to the King of Kings and Lord of Lord’s - KNOWING – that the over-whelming power and possibilities of Papa God and His Word would eventually turn things around for my wife and I.

And now some nine years later… I may be tempted at times to give in… BUT I thank God for the conviction and strength that I possess to continually reset my faith, receive His PEACE and then move on to a fresh new day, with its countless fresh new possibilities that can only come from His kingdom, His will and the truth of His Word for us!  That’s how I “Let Not” and “Neither Let” any fear have any way in me!  I’ve seen what it can do to others when they choose to “LET” and I choose instead to reset and choose His Peace – His Life – and His Victory!  How about you?

Have a great new week and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How and to what standard am I expecting to reset my faith in order to find His PEACE today?”

Friday, August 26, 2016

Zzzzzzzz...



Let me put out a disclaimer first thing today.  Please understand that if parts of this blog are incoherent or seems to have incomplete thoughts, it’s because I have been up and ready to go since about 4:00 this morning!  I guess that I’d best explain my predicament…

Ever since Piper had the seizures and the cast put on her fractured wrist, she has been experiencing an increase in body shaking and jerks.  A few days ago I was awakened at about 5:00 AM with the sound of her moving around in her bed.  Yesterday I got a little bit of a reprieve as she was not affected until 7:15, but I was not so blessed this morning as she experienced some hard jerks beginning at 4:00 AM.  When the situation seemed to get worse I thought it best to get ready to take her to the ER.  So I got dressed and put on a pot of coffee!

Thank God though, as she calmed down after about an hour and I was able to catch a few winks before they started in again at 7:00!  At this later hour I was able to get her up and give her the morning dosages of her meds and she relaxed comfortably.  I’ve been keeping her doctor up to date on the daily events and am awaiting his reply.  We’ve already made some adjustments to her regiment, but it looks like more are needed!

I am so glad that I have been studying from Ephesians chapter five where the Apostle Paul has been teaching on the fine points of a Godly relationship between husbands and wives.  Being able to focus on my God given responsibilities to my lovely wife and empowered by His love for me and mine for Him… and for Piper have helped me to function without giving in to the nagging thoughts of complaint that are just itching to get in!

The passage from this chapter, verses 25-27 from The Message Bible put all of this into perspective for me.  This paraphrased version declares in everyday language: “Husbands go all out in your love for your wives; exactly as Christ did for the church - a love marked by giving not getting.  Christ’s love makes the church whole.  His words evoke her beauty.  Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness.  And that is how husbands ought to love their wives.  They’re really doing themselves a favor – since they’re already ‘one’ in marriage.”

With all that in my mind, it was rather easy to sit by her side in the quiet of the early morning pre-dawn and lightly rub her arm and side as I spoke gentle and comforting words to her while she was experiencing what must be very confusing signals in her body due to the influxes of the disease.  At one point I simply asked the Lord to help me quiet everything in my head except for the truth of His Word, and after a few moments I felt a freedom to only see His will for Piper and to be able, in the midst of conflicting evidence, to “calleth those things that be not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17 KJV)

So… while I may be a little tired today, I am strengthen by the knowledge that He empowers me by His love, oversees my abilities and desires to assist my wife when she is not able to help herself, and find my overwhelming peace, my joy, and unfailing commitment to her in His Word… even when it looks like nothing seems to be working right at the moment!

And with that thought… I am going to find a soft spot on the couch, take a seat and find out how fast it takes me to slip into slumber!  Have a great weekend, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “In Whom am I expecting to find my strength, my peace, my joy and my commitment to those I love today?”

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Headship



Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you needed to hear a word or two of encouragement from Papa God?  I had one of those days yesterday.  Since she had the two seizures a week or so ago, my wife has been experiencing different symptoms that have definitely kept me on my toes.  I have been in communication with her Neurologist and we are trying some different courses of actions that seem to be helping, but it still takes a toll on one’s energy and hopefulness!

As I stared at my Bible program on my lap top yesterday, I asked the Lord for clear direction and special insight into His Word for the day.  I was a little surprised when it came through Ephesians chapter five where Paul teaches on the marriage relationship and the subject of submission with husbands and wives.  My commentary explained that “Submission has nothing to do with the order of authority, but rather governs the operation of authority, how it is given and how it is received.”*  It also suggested that husbands and wives should experience the submission and love of Christ within their working relationship with each other.

Then things got a little personal for me and I began to have flashbacks of the years of our marriage and many of the things the two of us accomplished both together and individually.  Every time Piper and I go to a new health provider I usually find myself telling the story of my special, multi-talented wife.  Of how her current state is SO opposite to the real Piper with her out-going, sparkling and encouraging personality that would always seem to light up any room that she entered.

I love to watch the expression on the listeners face when I tell how she homeschooled our four kids through high school.  Most times I hear the reply that “I could NEVER have attempted that!”  Then there was her classical training on the piano, her love of the outdoors, camping, and hiking, taking daily walks and how she made it fun for the neighborhood kids to hang out at our home.

Then it hit me as I read: “If a husband is submitted to Christ and filled with the Spirit, his sacrificial love will willingly pay a price that she (his wife) might be able to serve Christ in the home and glorify Him.”*  I realized that even though I have made my share of goofs as a husband and father, one thing I have always sought to do was to submit my life to Christ, study His Word and allow the Holy Spirit to have His way with me.  

And with that understanding I felt that small still voice deep inside me saying that my submission to Him gave Piper the freedom to use her unique set of gifts and talents to follow her dreams in homeschooling our kids, minister alongside me in the various churches we served and freely glorify God in our home as she used it as base of neighborhood outreach.  It was like He was telling me that the flack I had received concerning what some uninformed individuals had insinuated concerning my job as head of the home a few years back was undeserved and that I had actually done well.. and that Piper’s life and accomplishments were the proof!

Please understand that I am not sharing any of this for a pat on the back, but in worship and awe of Papa God and what our faithfulness to Him provides… not only for us but for those under our love and care.  It also strengthens the argument that, in some respects, seems lost in today’s society concerning the utmost importance and sanctity that God has given to the husband and father in the family.

In defining the word “head” in respect to husbands over wives (Ephesians 5:23) Thayer’s Greek Definitions tells of how “the loss of the head destroys the life…”  So, in referencing my personal example above, if I had abdicated my responsibilities to love my wife as Christ loved the church and not submit to Him, would she have had the freedom and grace to pursue her God-given dreams?  Would she have had the ability to live the fullness of her life and callings… or would that part of her life been inaccessible?

Gets you thinking doesn’t it?  Makes me want to make sure that I am fulfilling all of my responsibilities as a man, husband and father, so that those within the line of my headship are able to live their lives to the fullest extent!  What do you think?

Have a great rest of the week!  Stay in tune and obedience to the Word of God and keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting the correct completion of my responsibilities to positively affect my family and friends today?”




*”Be Rich” A Commentary on the book of Ephesians by Warren W. Wiersbe, chapter 11