Our New Home

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

YIPPEE!



Over the last couple of days we have had a little bit of rain and a good amount of wind.  Nothing really strong mind you, but enough to remove most of the leaves off the trees on our property.  So as I stepped out onto the porch this morning, I found myself entranced by the golden glow that met my eyes as I enjoyed the sight of the fall colored leaves gracing the landscape, and at the same time experienced a sense of discouragement!

You see, while I inherited the family’s love of working in the garden, I have never quite grown fond of raking leaves!  In fact… it is one of the chores that I have always tended to despise.  Even with all the years I ran my own yard and garden care side business, I never had a property that had major accumulations of leaves on the lawn!  But now… Well… now… our new home in the country is blessed with a multitude of beautiful mature trees that add a special charm to the landscape, but also beg the need to rake leaves in the fall!

So, over the past few days I began to pray, first of all, for a different attitude concerning the leaf situation and then for wisdom on the best way to handle the job.  My original idea was to get a catcher for our riding mower like the previous owner had.  But when I went online I was disheartened by their escalating prices, their bulkiness and the fact that I couldn’t seem to find a somewhat decently priced one that was designed to fit our mower.

Then late yesterday afternoon I was reminded of a particular job I had picked up in high school many years past.  (I was even earning income mowing lawns back then!)  The Vice-Principal sent me over to the large, fancy home of someone who had called the school wanting to hire a student to… you guessed it… rake leaves!  When I stepped into their backyard my heart skipped a beat as I looked over the size and scope of the yard!  It seemed huge, was landscaped with a large proliferation of tall maple trees, and the grass was covered in leaves.

But then I got a second breath when the owner directed me to his lawn sweeper that I could use to sweep up the leaves!  It was definitely a “Thank you God” moment!  So with that memory in mind I went online and looked up lawn sweepers.  And after a time of research, I found the perfect model that easily attaches to and is pulled by our lawn tractor (and is a lot cheaper than a catcher)… and this morning I ordered it!  Yippee!  

I know that this may not seemed like a big deal to some of you, but to me it is Nirvana!  I knew that if I could control the urge to be anxious and trust the Lord, that He would have an answer for me!

Yesterday I came across Romans 8:12 in the Message Bible and was enthused by the way it put this verse.  It says: “So, don’t you see that you don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent?”  This paraphrase caught my attention and as I meditated on it for a while I had the thought: “On whose actions are your daily activities and/or responsibilities dependent on?  Yours or Christ’s.”

Then it dawned on me that those folks who had caused us some frustration and pain in the early days of our current journey of my wife’s health tended to level their complaints and “advice” for me based on the need for ME to act in a certain way.  Their conversations were based on what they thought I did wrong and/or what I needed to do differently in order to make things right.  There seemed to be no thought of trusting in God or the truth of His Word.

As far as Piper and I were, are and will continue to be concerned… Our situation is totally dependent on Him and all we are doing is seeking to obey Him each step of the way!  Let’s face it folks… to be healed of Alzheimer’s is way beyond the natural limitations of man and medicine!  But you know… THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT SO EXCITING to Piper and I!!!
When we received that very first report of what the brain scans were showing back in 2007, we KNEW that this one was beyond us and immediately put it in His hands!  I guess that is one reason that all the intellectualism that was fed to us by some really confused and upset me!

After these thoughts came to light, I suddenly realized that it should have been no surprise to me that I so miserably failed in their eyes, for I can never match the expectations of things that only God can accomplish in His power and might!  So you see, while I give my best effort to meeting the immediate needs and care of my wife and will make any sacrifice necessary to care for her in her time of need, I don’t owe this do-it-yourself world one thing… like I said the other day… I have no obligation to handle my wife’s situation according to the fruitless ways of the world.

We are in a battle today that we can only approach… and win… with our faith and corresponding actions that are based solely on Him and His Word of truth!  I plan on us finishing this race that we have been running together for the last 46 plus years.  I don’t believe for one moment that He wants us to quit before we get to the finish line!  After all, “God’s spirit beckons us, for there are things to do and places to go!  For this resurrection life we received from God is not a timid grave-tending life.  It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God (each day) with a childlike ‘What’s next Papa?’” (Romans 8:14-15 MSG)

How exciting is that?  Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to live an Adventurously Expectant life through my personal walk of faith in God and His Word today?”

Monday, November 28, 2016

I Pledge Allegiance...



My wife and I made numerous trips into town over the long holiday weekend.  In the past I would find myself checking out other Mustangs and comparing them to ours in equipment, color combinations and over all appearance.  There always seemed to be a brotherhood connection between Mustang drivers as the customary nod between us became a regular occurrence.  But now that we no longer have our sports car, I found myself on the hunt for other SUV’s similar to our new Equinox!  It must be a guy thing for I suddenly never saw another Mustang but instead a myriad of mid-size Sport Utility Vehicles.

As it turns out, the Equinox is Chevrolet’s third most popular vehicle behind the Silverado pickup and the Cruz sedan.  So it is easy to spot them on the road!  What I noticed though, is that ours has many features or extra “packages” that most of the other ones that I’ve spotted do not have!  

As with our house, it is like the Lord knew the desires of our hearts and provided us with a car that included many of the accessories that He knew we would enjoy… like the chrome appearance package that includes chrome door handles, rims, mirrors (heated as well) and interior trim.  I remember Piper telling me once that you could make almost any car look good when you added the right wheels and rims to it!  (Ahhh… among all her other qualities, she has always been a car enthusiast… no wonder she absconded with my heart! – remember, in High School she used to drive her Mom’s orange with black racing stripes 1969 Camaro SS396… like I said… It was love at first drive!)  

Also included with our Equinox is the driver convenience package that includes more bells and whistles with the infotainment system, 8 way power seats, remote vehicle starter, split back folding rear seats, and many other extras.

Another thing that I realized on our trips to town was that I no longer felt an allegiance to Mustangs and their owners.  Now I am beginning to find myself being attached to SUV’s, their drivers and the life-style that this type of vehicle provides… although our oldest son did make the comment that he wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t see another hot Mustang or Camaro in our future!  And speaking of our future…  a beautiful deep blue Camaro convertible did catch my eye in the lot at the Chevy dealer when we were finalizing the deal on the Equinox…

But back to today’s subject… I came across a section of Scripture over the weekend that talks about another kind of allegiance.  Romans 8:12 tells us that we “have no obligation (or allegiance) to live the way our (old) corrupt nature wants us to live.” (God’s Word ©)  So, just as I no longer feel obligated or an allegiance to the Mustang we no longer own, I should not feel any obligation or allegiance to my old self that was exchanged for the new man I became when I accepted Christ as my personal Savior and Lord back in the early 1970’s.
Nor should I feel any obligation or allegiance to any sinful desires or influences or lies of the devil that may try to exert their presence into my daily life!   

Take this morning for example… Piper awoke with a high resurgence of body shakes and jerks today.  In response I immediately went into my “keep her calm, relaxed and fear-free” mode of operation.  I continually spoke gently to her as I confessed God’s Word over her and kept reminding her that all was okay!

Once I got her dressed and into the kitchen, it dawned on me that we were NOT under any obligation to allow these symptoms of sickness and disease to continue attacking her body!  But instead, we had placed our allegiance in the truth and power of God’s Word.  Therefore, as I spoke the Word over her, I noticed a new resolve within me as I confessed the sickness-busting-power of what I have written of before as God’s opinion of Piper’s health.

The symptoms did hang on a little longer than usual this morning, but they eventually did subside while we kept pumping the overcoming power of God’s Word into her need. I noticed an almost immediate difference in my faith when I realized that I don’t owe the lying symptoms of this sickness any allegiance.  For us Christians, there is NO MORE OBLIGATION to the devil’s attacks on our bodies, or any of his other lies as well.

For we belong to a NEW COVENANT, with a NEW ALLEGIANCE, to a NEW BOSS, with a NEW POWER and with a NEW RESULT!

WOW!  What do you think about that?  Kind of puts a whole new attitude into your daily steps doesn’t it?  It sure does for me… and our experience this morning only deepens my resolve!

Is it time to make a reset in your allegiance this week?  Let me know what happens when you do!  Have a great post-Thanksgiving week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Who am I expecting to place my allegiance in today?”

Friday, November 25, 2016

Adventurously Expectant



I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration yesterday!  We spent the afternoon at our oldest daughter and her husband’s home in Morrisville, about forty minutes away from our residence.  It was fun to watch the two of them working together in the kitchen as they finished the meal preparations.  It was almost as much fun just being able to sit and do nothing but watch… oh yea… and keep their two Rat Terriers company!  The meal was terrific, the fellowship sweet and the warm feeling that filled our hearts is still pulsating through our beings today!

It is always special to gather with family on the holidays.  And even though our kids are spread out among two different coasts and three different states, we were still able to spend time with them through the technological marvels of Face-Time with our Oklahoma kids and Blue Tooth connectivity in our vehicles as we chatted with our older son while we were both in our vehicles traveling on opposite ends of the country the afternoon of the previous day!

So… I’m a happy camper this morning!  Sure our holiday celebrations are different than they used to be, but you know, sometimes it is just good to go with the flow and enjoy the new traditions that arise from the changing circumstances of life that are being written within the pages of the stories of our personal histories!

I got stirred up this morning as I read about another important area of Piper’s and my lives when I read about our exciting position in our spiritual family.  I got excited when I realized that Papa God’s plans for us are always evolving, are always fresh and new and that He desires that we never allow the circumstances of life to slow us down in our service unto the throne of heaven.

Paul’s in his conversation recorded in Romans 8:14-15 acts as a motivational speaker to my wife and I.  Here he encourages us declaring: “God’s Spirit beckons.  There are things to do and places to go!  This resurrection life we received from God is not a timid, grave tending life.  It’s adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlike ‘What’s next, Papa?’” (The Message Bible)

Is that the question that you ask first thing each and every morning?  Did you declare that powerful statement today as you swung your legs out of bed?  I can’t say that I uttered those exact words this morning, but I did arise with fresh expectations in my heart and was excited to see what Papa God had planned for us today!  I am not sure if this was a result of the good time we both had yesterday and that Piper had eaten three good meals and slept peacefully through the night, or if was just the joy of the Lord bubbling up from my heart.  

Never-the-less, it was a good feeling and my heart jumped a beat or two as I sat down at the breakfast table with a fresh, steaming hot cup of perfectly brewed Starbucks Sumatra coffee and read these verses to Piper and I.  I think that the holidays are the perfect time to reflect on just how personal and intimate our relationships are with Papa God.  To consider just how “adventurously expectant” our Christian faith is.

Just reading Paul’s descriptive words about having an adventurous expectancy in our daily walk with Christ energizes my enthusiasm and reignites the passion I had when I first came into a personal relationship with Him back in the early seventies!  I can remember during some of those special days, going back home to my parent’s place after spending an evening with my favorite girl and just basking in the presence of the Lord that seemed to fill my bedroom as I reflected on Him.  (I’m sure that the aurora of Piper and the fragrance of her perfume that lingered on my clothes didn’t hurt either!)

So yea… I’m excited about what He has planned for us as we enter the Christmas season and the New Year ahead.  From my understanding of His Word, I know it to only be good reports that come from the Good News of His Word.  I am looking forward to increasing in my adventurous expectations of His love, of His grace, of His power, and of His abilities working through me unto others!  How about you?

Have a great holiday weekend and may the Lord richly bless each of you as you prepare your homes, your hearts and your daily outreach for the upcoming celebration of the coming of the newborn King of Kings!  And as you do… Keep asking yourselves… “How ADVENTUROUSLY EXPECTANT am I in my daily Christian walk?”

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"Thrilled!"



Thrill (THril)

    1)  (Noun) To affect with a sudden wave of keen emotion or excitement, as to produce a tremor or tingly sensation through the body.

       2)  (Verb) To be stirred by a tremor or tingling sensation of emotion or excitement.

-        Dictionary.com

Can you remember the last time that you were really thrilled over something or someone?  Although I strive to not live in the past, with the battle we are fighting for my wife’s health, I can’t help but have flashbacks of some of the many stirring times that she and I have had over the last 46+ years of our relationship together.

I can’t help but recall the daily thrill I felt during our Senior High school year as I felt like I was walking on clouds the entire year!  Or the many times that we would be together and start laughing so hard over something one of us said or did that we could hardly stand up.  I can remember the thrill of the myriad of adventures we embarked upon as husband and wife and later as Mom and Dad with our four kids.  Then there were all the special ministry programs, the youth groups, the Children’s Churches and College Career groups that we participated in or led over 35+ years of ministry… 

But I think the greatest thrill that I miss the most is simply sitting alone with Piper, holding her hand and quietly gazing into her bright shining brown eyes as she smiled back with encouragement, joy and love.

In our daily battle with the debilitating symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease it could be easy to fall into despair and depression… and believe me when I say there are days when the temptation to give up are unavoidable… but at those times I go to the source of encouragement, strength, joy, peace and power.  In these critical crossroads in our fight I know enough to stir myself up and get caught up in the thrill of the promises found only in God’s Word.

As I pick up one of my 50 or more translations of His Holy Word and begin to read from many of my favorite verses, I quickly find myself being uplifted with the truth of His overwhelming love for me and my wife as I find myself focusing in on His abundant power that is greater than any old lie that we may see trying to manifest itself in Piper’s body.
I love S. Way’s translation of Ephesians 3:20 as written in his “Letters of St. Paul to Seven Churches and three Friends with the Letter to the Hebrews.”  Here he describes the overcoming power and abilities of Papa God saying: “To Him who is able to accomplish all – more than all things, far transcending all our prayers, all our imaginings, to an extent whose measure is that mighty impulse which THRILLS us through.”

After meditating on verses such as this throughout the Old and New Testaments, I can’t help but find myself more THRILLED over the truth of God’s Words to my wife and I than any new symptom or attack that the enemy of our souls may try to inflict.  And as His THRILLS begin to course throughout my entire being (both spiritually and physically) I find new strength, new resolve and greater faith building up inside of me to go the length of this battle.  To see it through until the finish line… the place where the truth of God and His Word proves itself to be the THRILL of our lives and we can step back into the specific race that God has called Piper and I to COMPLETE in this life!

I agree with something our Pastor said a few weeks back when he was teaching on running the race that the Apostle Paul wrote about in I Corinthians nine and Philippians chapter three.  The Pastor assured us that God didn’t call us to enter the race of life only to quit before our particular race ended!  Not me… Not my ‘bulldog like faith’ wife either!  We aim to finish our race and receive “the prize for the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14 KJV)

Now that is something to be THRILLED about… wouldn’t you agree!  How many times a day do you seek the Lord’s wisdom and guidance and find yourself being THRILLED by His truth as you allow it to course through your entire being?  You know… it is just too easy in today’s technical world to say that you don’t have time to get into His Word.  After all, you can have it on your phone, your laptop, your tablet, in your vehicle’s infotainment system, and just about anywhere you go!  And it only takes a moment… a few quick clicks or swipes to find His Word for the moment that will THRILL you for the rest of the day… or until another dosage of His THRILLS are required!

I don’t know about you, but that thought simply THRILLS me!  Have a great new week as you allow His Word to THRILL you throughout your busy schedules… and in the meantime… keep asking yourself… “Who or What am I expecting to THRILL me today?”