Our New Home

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

I have an Attitude,,,


We had a new Nurse Practitioner come to give Piper her three month recertification examination yesterday afternoon.  Although the gal was new to us, she told us that she has been with Liberty Hospice for about six years.  Since they are on the road most of the day, the organization had done some reshuffling of their staff so that the nurse’s coverage areas could be a little closer to their homes.  I believe she said she lives about 20 minutes away from our home. 

While she was checking out my sweet wife she asked about “our story” of how the situation with Piper’s health began and progressed through the years.  It is a story I have told many times since 2007, so I started at the beginning and brought her up to current times!  At the conclusion of my comments I told her that I have learned many personal lessons and seen the different sides of many people including myself.  I also told her that I should actually thank the folks who gave us some of the hardest times, especially at the beginning when it seemed like we needed the most physical, emotional and spiritual assistance.  I related how their vehement resistance to us and the courses of action that we felt led of the Lord to follow, in effect, only caused us to be stronger and more resolute in our faith. 

As I re-read Proverbs 3:5-6 from the Contemporary English Version this morning, I was immediately drawn back into our conversations with the Nurse Practitioner.  This modern translation states:

“With all your heart you must trust the LORD and not your own judgment.  Always let him lead you, and he will clear the road for you to follow.”

And again, like I mentioned in my last post, what I saw and wrote down in my notes actually differed a little from the way the words on the page were composed.  My notes this morning spoke to me in a more personalized manner as I wrote down: 

“With all our hearts Piper and I MUST trust the Lord and not our own judgement.  We choose to always let him lead us, for we know – by repeated examples through the years – that HE WILL clear the road for us to follow.”

As I meditated on my personalized version of this verse, I began to think about “our story” that I had shared with our new compassionate friend when suddenly the word “predisposition” popped into my brain.  I quickly looked up the definition of the term and discovered that it means to: “to hold a particular attitude, or to act in a particular way.” (Oxford Dictionaries) And then… Walla!  The light went on and I turned to my wife sitting next to me at the kitchen table and almost shouted: “That’s what we did at the first sketchy report on the original MRI that was taken of your brain back in 2007!”  Following the initial emotional reaction to that report from the nurse on the phone while I was standing alone (thank God!) in the power accessory aisle in the Garden Department at the South Tulsa Home Depot in Oklahoma and my subsequent run to the outside soils storage area so that I could be totally alone, I immediately KNEW that our only answer to this devastating news was GOD and the truth of His Word!

When I got home a little while later and told Piper the negative information I had received, we immediately took hands without any thought or conversation and gave it all to God.  Why?  Because we were PREDISPOSITONED to trust God for this and any other similar situation.  As the dictionary definition states, from the very beginning of this life-altering situation, WE HAD AN ATTITUDE!  And just as today’s translation of Proverbs 3:5-6 says, we knew that we knew that we MUST act in a particular way.

In our minds we immediately KNEW that we had NO OTHER CHOICE but to seek, obey and then follow through on whatever Papa God in His Word and confirmed in our spirits told us to do!  Following that prayer in the late evening hours of that first night, it didn’t matter what or who came against us as we KNEW that we MUST follow God’s plan for us.  This may sound a little harsh, but I firmly believe that if we had rejected what we believed to be the Father’s directions for us and followed some of the contrary “advice” given to us that my sweet wife would not still be alive today!

Have you ever considered the things in your own lives that you have a PREDISPOSITION about?  When things turn south… where is the FIRST PLACE that you automatically turn to for help?  Is it 911, your family and friends, your Pastor or Papa God and His Word?  Over the years since that first report concerning my wife’s health, I have called and/or counselled with all those I just listed… but only after I have sought the Lord and His immediate directions for us.

What do you think about it?

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself…  “Am I expecting to follow my PREDISPOSITON when times get rough?”  … Hummm... maybe you also have an ATTITUDE!

Monday, October 16, 2017

Discouragement


dis·cour·age·ment

           [ˌdisˈkərijmənt]

NOUN

    1. a loss of confidence or enthusiasm; dispiritedness:  "do not give in to discouragement"
    2. an attempt to prevent something by showing disapproval or creating difficulties; deterrent:  "the discouragement of crime"*



I would imagine that most of us have had to deal with times of discouragement in our lives.  I heard a story yesterday about a leader named David who returned to his hometown with his faithful and devoted army of 600 men only to find their town burned to the ground and all their families and stuff gone.  The tale goes on to tell how David was beside himself with sorrow and regret and then to make matters even worse, his men began to turn on him as they blamed him for their loss and wanted to stone him!

Talk about fighting discouragement!  In that particular set of circumstances, I think I can relate to how he must have felt… and I’m sure it wasn’t too positive.  So what do you think he did?  Did he go off into a corner and feel sorry for himself?  Did he jump on his horse and skedaddle?  (Did they even use horses in battle back then?  How about camels…)

Well… this story which is recorded in the Biblical book of I Samuel 30 tells us in verse six that David resisted the fear and anger that was plaguing his army and instead “encouraged himself in the Lord.” (KJV)  And you know what happened?  Let me tell you… after getting built back up in the Lord, he sought the Lord’s directions, gathered up his troops and went after the enemy where they found them “scattered all over the place, eating and drinking, gorging themselves on all the loot they had plundered from Philistia and Judah.” (I Samuel 30:16 MSG)  The next verse says that David and his army “pounced” on them, defeated them and got everyone and everything taken from them back safe and sound!

Now that’s the kind of ending to a story that I like… how about you?  Hearing this story at church really encouraged me yesterday and confirmed what I believe the Lord had shown me during my personal Bible study before my breakfast.

I always help Piper with her morning meal before I feed the dog, study the Word and then feed myself!  Well… yesterday’s breakfast for my wife did not go too smoothly.  From the onset, she was not real interested in swallowing anything I gave her.  For a while there it seemed like I was getting more on my hands than in her mouth!  But I persevered and even though it took quite a while, she was finally able to consume a satisfactory amount of her breakfast drinks.

To say that I was tempted to be more than a little discouraged would be putting it mildly!  By the time we were done I was feeling frustrated, upset and almost ready to throw in the towel.  I sat at the table next to her for a while rubbing my tired eyes and considered all the thoughts going through my head, but you know… I deliberately chose to not say a thing.  Instead I slowly got up, put the lease on the dog and took him outback for his morning constitutional.  

Once out in the cool of the mid-October morning, I listened to the songs of the birds in the trees, watched a squirrel run up the side of our fence and reflected on the blue skies surrounding the puffy white clouds overhead.  Once Fiver was done, he jerked me back to reality as he pulled me up the stairs to the deck so he could get inside and have his breakfast!  After I got his food prepared in his special bowl and placed it on his mat next to the refrigerator, I poured a hot insulated cup of Starbucks Carmel flavored coffee and sat down at my computer Bible Study program and began to pray for directions.

During this whole time since feeding my wife, I felt like I was in a fog.  I was fighting through a sense of hopelessness which is normally quite unusual for me and dealing with a strong desire to give into the discouragement that seemed to be screaming at me from all directions!  As my attempts to quiet myself down began to succeed, I heard a soft voice inside of me encouraging me to turn to Proverbs 3:5-6.  So I clicked a few keys on my laptop, highlighted the God’s Word © translation, clicked the mouse to the correct scripture address and read:

“Trust the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth.”

Now, what you see above are the words that were visible on my computer screen, but what I actually saw was:

“Trust in ME Jim with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge ME, and I will make your paths smooth.”

You talk about the effects of a cool drink of water to a hot, exhausted and worn out body (soul and spirit as well!)  Yummmm…  with those two sentences, I flopped back in my seat and quietly began to thank the Lord for just the right WORD at just the right time!  I think at that moment in time, David and I were like two peas in a pod!

Instead of giving into discouragement, Papa God helped me to keep my mouth shut until I could turn to Him and seek His support and guidance in my time of need.

What about you today?  Are you feeling discouraged about anything?  It could be your health or like me, the health of someone very close and special to you.  It could be a financial need, a situation at work or in your family… or it could be just about anything no matter how outrageously large or ridiculously small in size and effect in your life.  Whatever it is… it matters big time to God!

And let me tell you… He does not want you to give into discouragement because He has and IS the answer for your need.  He loves you SO much that He doesn’t want you wasting even a second of your life being discouraged when He can be your uplifting support, comfort and strong fortress!

The King James Version of David’s story says that, “David encouraged himself in the Lord.”  The Hebrew term “encouraged” means “to fasten upon (the Lord), to be strengthened, made courageous, to be cured, fortified, repaired and/or become obstinate (in your unwavering trust in the Lord for your life).”  Just reading that definition makes me feel better… how about you?  Just think about it for a moment.  All those attributes are what our heavenly Father wants us to be in and through our connection with Him!  Wow… so when you and I are weak, He is strong!

Thank you Lord!  Have a great new week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “What or Whom am I expecting to turn to for strength and support when discouragement rears its ugly head around me?”



*Powered by Oxford Dictionaries · © Oxford University Press · Translation by Bing Translator


Friday, October 13, 2017

Plump Up?

One of the many symptoms that has demonstrated itself with my wife’s health concerns has been a constant fluctuation in her weight.  It was our concern over her inability to gain weight that led us to the initial physical examination she had back in 2006 before we left for Oklahoma.  The physician at that time thought that her weight was well within the normal range and gave her a clean bill of health.  So we proceeded forward with our plans to move.

After being prescribed a seizure medicine in 2009 she almost immediately gained 38 lbs.  Then about six months later I asked the doctor if there was a liquid form of the medication as she was not always consistent in swallowing the rather large pills.  Well there was and we switched over to the liquid form.  For some reason though, she lost the 38lbs in a few months and returned to her normal weight.

A funny side note happened during this time… Following Piper’s original diagnosis in 2009, I had different people tell me all about the negative reactions that they witnessed or ever heard about in a parent, spouse or friend in order to “warn” me about potential changes in my wife’s demeanor.  Let me tell you flat out hereDon’t do that to a person who is facing a lot of unknowns and attempting to deal with all kinds of things from a personal, emotional, financial and spiritual stand point!  It definitely was NOT what I wanted or needed to hear at that time.

Most times I smiled kindly at the individual relating the story to me and told them that I KNEW what was in my wife’s spirit and that anger or violence would NEVER occur in her… and it hasn’t in the eight years since then!  In fact, my wife has never exhibited negative or any self-destructive tendencies… but just the opposite!  She simply got funnier and a little less reserved in the way she responded to others.

One time when we went over to her parent’s home, she went up to her Dad upon entering the living room and gave him a big bear hug.  Then without a second thought she laughed and said: “Whoa Dad… you’ve gained quite a bit of weight haven’t you!”  Well, without having to say, every eye in the room went to her Dad following her broach of the sensitive subject.  Her Dad became flustered and a bit taken aback and immediately replied: “YOU’RE the one who has gained weight!” His retort upset me but not my still spunky wife.  She continued laughing and soon everyone in the room, including her Dad was laughing along with her!

Since that time her weight has gone up and down… usually down.  I had talked about it with her neurologist at the time and she gave me some information on a variety of foods and liquids that could help to put the pounds back on.  Our oldest daughter and I agreed that it was probably best to get her weight up to about 110lbs in order to put a little more cushion on her in case she should fall as her coordination was beginning to wane.  But Piper would have nothing to do with that decision!  In her mind, her perfect weight was always 105lbs and she would not budge!

I often joked about that in the years to come for even when she lost the ability to verbally communicate and I tried my best to get her weight to the 110lb level… I could not get it that high!  I now believe that it was due to her bull-dog like determination in keeping her weight at the level that was comfortable with her!  Since the beginning of this last year she has lost even more weight and I would love to be able to see it just get close to 100lbs again!

In Psalm 143:9 the Psalmist cries out: “Deliver me, O LORD, from mine enemies: I flee unto thee to hide me.” (KJV)   As I studied this verse earlier today, I came across a link between the above story of the ups and downs of Piper’s weight and a point that David was trying to convey to his readers.  The word translated “hide” in the original Hebrew not only means “to cover” but also leans to the idea of “to plump or to fill up.” 

So as I have been attempting to “plump up” my wife (Geez… Don’t EVER tell her I used that term for her as she has almost always been slim and trim… and proud of it!) David is telling us that when we “flee” to the Lord for deliverance that we can not only “hide” or “be covered” up by Him for our protection… but also… while we are in His presence, to take advantage of the moment and “fill up” and/or “plump up” our spirit man or women with His Word of truth!

As far as I am concerned… when in the presence of the Lord it is NOT the time to be reserved, but to dig in to the spread set before you at the table that He has prepared for us “in the presence of mine enemies” (Psalm 23:5 KJV)  In this case, spiritual calories are a GOOD THING to have!

I have mentioned it repeatedly in many other posts and in fact, told the gal cutting my hair yesterday at Great Clips, that filling up, plumping up or stuffing us with His Word on a daily basis has been the KEY to keeping my wife and I strong, focused and (mostly) at peace in the midst of everything we have been through with the battle we are fighting for her life!  Let me tell you again… HIS WORD WORKS!  But you’ve got to hear it before you can act on it!

So… what do you say?  Are you ready to attend a FEAST this weekend?  To go to a place where the table set before you is overflowing with luscious, delicious and mouth as well as spirit-man watering dishes?  Where the sign on the door says “Eat All You Can!”  I SURE am!

Have a wonderful weekend… even if the circumstances around you might not look too promising.  Get into His presence, pull up a chair at the table and enjoy yourselves!

And… as you do, keep asking yourself… “Just how much am I expecting to EAT today?”

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Santa Rosa


When my wife and I returned home from our three year stay in Oklahoma where I attended Bible College, we felt that we would never leave California again.  It’s not that we didn’t enjoy our stay in the Sooner state.  The people were wonderful, the church was terrific, and the job was good.  The only thing that tended to drive me bonkers though, was the extreme weather and the flat countryside!

So we came back to the mild weather, beautiful hills, and mountains and nearby seaside draws of our home in Santa Rosa, California.  But you know… after a short while we took notice that things weren’t the same as before we left.  As I’ve mentioned in other blog posts, our former network of family and friends had drastically changed and somehow the city itself seemed to be different.  Then a few years later when the Lord clearly spoke to me about moving to be near most of our kids on the other side of the country, it just felt right!

So here we are a little over three years later and we’ve never looked back for this is home to us now!  But then something happened that served to evoke in me some feelings that I never knew were there.  I received an early morning text from my sister on Monday morning asking how Piper was and if we were going to be okay with the approaching hurricane Nate coming up from the gulf.

After texting back and forth a few times she asked us to pray for them out in northern California as she said they were surrounded by fires.  Well, I didn’t get too concerned as that isn’t unusual for that area of the country this time of year.  At least that what I thought until I went online and starting perusing through some north bay area websites…

I have to admit that I was horror struck as I began to see pictures of areas of our hometown where we used to live.  Where we raised our kids.  Stores, hotels and longstanding local landmarks that we frequented and/or passed by on a daily basis were totally burned out!  I told my cousin whom I immediately sent a text that it looked quite apocalyptic!  I thought that this couldn’t really be true… could it?

I can’t fully explain the shock, hurt and emptiness I have felt as I’ve looked at all the horrific pictures and read the news updates.  It’s been a little difficult to get current news out here, but I seem to have enough contacts through Facebook, email and texting to keep me in the know! 

I guess that the old hometown still holds a prominent place in who Piper and I are.  We may be 3000 miles away, but we’ll always be Santa Rosen’s at heart!  All those places that we simply took for granted when we lived there are all a part of our personal history.  It is hard to see it gone and more importantly, it is very difficult to see many of our friends from our old homeschool group and church having to go through the personal hardships of losing their homes and belongings.  Our hearts and continued prayers continue to go out to them and their situations.

My sister, her husband and two dogs have been evacuated from their home since Sunday night.  I just spoke with her and as far as she knows their house in the Oakmont area is still safe.  I haven’t heard from my brother as yet today.  I did hear from my cousin though (whose home is safe in Bennet Valley) and she reported that his neighborhood in Sonoma is now under mandatory evacuation.

So… we continue to keep watch and we continue to lift the entire situation to the One with the ability, strength, peace and love to carry each of them through until the morning of the new day.  For each of you in the midst of this situation, I encourage you to lift your voices to the Lord and let this be your prayer:

“Hear me speedily, O LORD: (for) my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit.  Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.” (Psalm 143:7-8 KJV) 

Know that none of you are alone nor in a hopeless situation.  You have friends surrounding you in prayer and the Lord who is holding you close to Himself.  He will carry you through this and you will see His lovingkindness in each new morning!

Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might… and as you are, keep asking yourself… “Who am I expecting to carry me through today… as well as in the days ahead?”

Monday, October 9, 2017

What's Hidden In You?


Back in the latter end of the 1970’s, the pastor of the Baptist church that my wife and I were attending and where I was also serving as the Youth Minister, assembled a group of men in the church for a special Bible Study group.  I felt very honored when he also asked me to participate in the study sessions.  Most of the men were a minimum of ten plus years my senior.  I was still pretty new in my Christian walk and didn’t know much about the Bible… but I definitely was hungry to find out!

We started out by reading, studying and discussing a book put out by the Navigators.*  I don’t remember what the title was or even what it covered!  But what I do remember though, is how great it felt to be surrounded by a group of supportive individuals who were all there in order to grow in their faith as men, husbands, dads, employees or employers and followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It was also the first time that I began to internalize the importance of memorizing scripture. And since I already had the visible reference of one who possessed a wealth of the Word hidden in her heart through the example of my young wife, it was easy for me to grasp the reality of this truth very quickly!  In this regard, the Psalmist in Psalm 2:1-5 declares:

“My son, (& daughter) if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding;  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”   (KJV)                                                                                        

I can’t tell you how many times throughout the early years of our marriage that I would turn to my wife, when in the midst of ministering to others, expecting her to have the right Word for the discussion at hand… and you know?  Most of the time she did have it and shared it gracefully, expectantly and with a sweet smile!  My problem was that for some reason, it was very difficult for me to memorize the specific location of individual scriptures and then be able to recall them when needed!

On the positive side, I seemed to be able to remember the book in the Bible where the verse was found and the approximate location within that book, so after reading a few books by and/or about the great evangelist Smith Wigglesworth (1859 – 1957), I began to follow his example and tended to keep a Bible nearby or in the car whenever I went out so that I could easily flip through the pages and find the verse I wanted! 

For years, the first thing I did whenever I got a new Bible was to put a small tab on the page with the table of contents so I could find a particular book with rapid success.  My little cheat tab made it look like I knew my Bible so well that I could get to any book with a simple flip of a few pages!  (Shhh... don’t tell anybody I told you this!)

Through the years of ministry and life in general, I have learned that is important to not only share scripture from the heart, but to also let the receiver know where he or she can find the verse in their own Bibles.  Piper always had the knack to stop in the middle of ministering to someone at the church in order to assist them in finding the verse in their own Bible, so that they could follow along with what she was sharing.  This technique seemed to help the individual take more ownership of the scripture and to help them put it into work in their own lives in a more meaningful way.

Over the past twenty years or so, it has become much easier for me to recall particular verses and the address were they abide in the Bible!  Of course the addition of Bible School definitely aided my ability to know where the verses I may need at any given time are.  One of the most interesting results of my journey of memorizing or maybe better said, hiding the Word in my heart, has been during some of the more difficult moments of this battle for my wife’s health that we have been involved with full time since 2009.  I’ve discovered to my pleasure, that in the neediest times, when things seem to be sky-rocketing downward… the Word that I have put inside me has seemed to just pop up and help me through whatever is happening at the moment!

In times of greatest need, at the side of my wife in the different Emergency Rooms, in the midst of a scary negative physical reaction that is happening before my eyes, when the doctors or nurses have given me negative reports, or when I am just looking into the eyes of the one I love more than anything else in this world and seeing the trauma residing there, it has been His Word that has come up from inside me and given me the comfort, the peace, the confidence and the strength to carry on… and then share that Word with her as well!

So, my suggestion?  Take the time today… and every day to study and then hide His Word in your hearts… so that when your times of need arise, you’ll discover His Word coming up from the hidden places of your heart to minister to you when you need it the most!  Have a great week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to hide God’s Word in my heart today?”                                                               



*https://www.navigators.org/mission/navigator-church-ministries/

Friday, October 6, 2017

Ears!


I was watching a news program the other evening where they were discussing the recent passing of musician Tom Petty.  At the conclusion of the segment the commentator turned to his panel of “experts” who had participated in the conversation and asked each of them what their favorite Tom Petty song was.  And without any hesitation each panelist named a song and took a moment to reminisce as to why this was their favorite.

I was a little surprised at how fast they each answered the inquiry and turned to my wife and stated that I couldn’t answer that question!  While I was familiar with the musician I could not name one single song as I haven’t really listened to secular music since the mid 1970’s.  I had discovered back then that the secular music on the radio that I had saturated myself in since elementary school and covered many of the songs in a couple of garage bands that I was in through Junior and Senior High just didn’t have any meaning to me anymore!

My growing hunger for the things of God and the breakthrough of good contemporary Christian music opened up a whole new world of musical expression that was easy for me to set my ear to!  The lyrics in this genre of music had a strong meaning that effected my entire being and touched my very soul.  Then with the new twelve string guitar that my wife bought for me on our first anniversary (I believe that was the occasion anyway – it definitely was during our first year as husband and wife!) the new songs seemed to just pour forth from inside of me!  That gorgeous red guitar and I became almost inseparable for many years up and through the 1990’s!*

Proverbs 4:20 in the Old Testament Greek translation found in the Apostolic Bible Polyglot, the Word of the Lord says: “O son, to my sayings take heed, and to my words set aside your ear.”  As I read this translation this morning, I thought about the story I shared above and it made me think of the importance of setting our ears to the truth of God’s Word.  As Christians, I believe this is a decision that each of us have to face at some point in our lives. 

The literal meaning in the Greek for the phrase “set aside” is “to put oneself into a place or to a person.”  For us that would simply mean to put ourselves into the place of God’s Word.  Into a position where we seek, listen to and obey the teachings and directions that He gives us through the pages of our Bibles.  I made the purposeful decision way back when to stop listening to most secular music as I felt it no longer met a need in me.  My focus in life had changed and I needed to “set” myself into a place where I was being enriched by the things I listened to.  It is a decision that I have never regretted.

The God’s Word translation of our verse today declares: “My son, pay attention to my words.  Open your ears to what I say.”  Every time I read from that version the “I” seems to enlarge itself and jump off the page at me!  It is like the Lord is trying to emphasize the point that what He has to say is of much more importance than to what the world is trying to yell into my ears.

Piper’s and my heartfelt and determined decision to glue our ears onto God and His Word at the very beginning of the ordeal with her health that we continue to deal with, has saved us much discomfort and error from all the other voices that have vied for the attention of our ears since 2007.  The next verse in Proverbs 20 warns us to “not lose sight of these things…” (God’s Word ©)  I have discovered over the path of our journey that other voices many times, come only but to bring doubt to our stand of faith and act as a distraction to what the Father is trying to do on and in our behalf.  For us the need is to: “Focus – Focus – Focus” on God and His Word… for what He has to say is of MUCH MORE importance than any other voice!

So… to what have you “set your ear” to?  What are the things that you listen to when the needs of life come to light?  For me and my house, our ears are firmly glued onto the truth of God and His Word!  Just think about it…

Have a great weekend.  After a week of fantastic fall weather we are supposed to get a bit of rain this weekend, but that’s okay as our lawns could use it!  As you go about your daily activities this weekend, give a thought to where your ears are set and see if any changes are in order… and in the process keep asking yourself… “What voice(s) am I expecting to be listening to today?”



*Lately though, it hasn’t seen much action!  With everything going on with my wife’s health I just haven’t had the inspiration to play.  I even purchased a new guitar a couple of years ago and keep both out in our living room so that I can see them, hoping that it would give me the desire to play again… but alas… it hasn’t happened yet!  But I fervently believe that those two instruments and Piper’s piano as well, still have lots of years of music in them!  My faith won’t let me give up!!!































Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Indiana Jones and the ____________!


When I was helping my wife to get ready for bed last night I noticed that her nose was a little stuffed up, so I went over to the nightstand near her bed and reached out to grab the bottle of nasal spray that I keep there and realized to my shock that the spot was empty!  Then I remembered that I had used it earlier in the day for Piper and had left it in an “obvious place” in one of the front rooms, so that I would remember to put it back where it belonged and not have to go through a hide-and-go-seek game in order to find it… like I was doing right then!

The only problem was that I couldn’t recall where that “obvious place” was!  I made a dash into the dining room, kitchen, living room and then the guest restroom, eye-balled each room and still couldn’t find it!  Well, it was too late and I was tired and didn’t want to play that game anymore so, I grabbed a couple of mostly spent bottles that I keep on the dresser, shook them to find out which had the most ingredients in it and used that spray to meet my wife’s need.

Proverbs 4:22 tells us that the truths of God’s Word “are life unto those who find them, and health to all their flesh.” (KJV)  While continuing to study this section of scripture this morning, I noticed that the word translated “find” in the original Hebrew means “to secure, to get a thing sought, to find what is lost.”  That kind of sounds like I was trying to do last night with my wife’s nasal spray doesn’t it? 

Well, upon further examination I discovered that I might have come up a little short of the true meaning of that word and the sense it gives to Solomon’s instructions in this proverb.  The Greek translation gives greater depth of understanding to what he was attempting to teach.  Thayer’s Greek Definitions says it describes an action such as “to find by enquiry, thought, examination, scrutiny, observation, practice and experience; to find out for one’s self.”

I get the idea from that description that “finding” the inner truths of God’s Word entails more than just a casual glance or a half-hearted search… like I did last night!  Now on the other hand… before Piper and I bought our Mustang GT convertible back in the fall of 2014, I had preceded the purchase with four years of research and investigation concerning all aspects of the model I desired to someday acquire.  One of the first things I did when we returned to California from our stay in Oklahoma was to tape a photo of the car I thought I wanted on the wall in my study so I would see it whenever I walked into the room in order to keep the dream alive in me.

By the time I found the “right” car at a specialty dealership in Virginia on their website, I could tell you every detail about the model year I was looking for.  When everything finally came together, years later and many miles distant to that picture I had taped on the wall, our faith had grown from an entry level six cylinder model to the top of the line V-8, GT Premium with a tuned exhaust and loaded with extras!

In the years following the initial idea, I poured through information concerning that particular generation of the car on the internet, in books and in magazines.  We took countless trips to local dealerships and did daily web searches across the country for the particular model we desired, including the right combination of interior and exterior colors. By the time they delivered the car to our home, one could almost say that I had become somewhat of an expert on fifth generation Mustang models.

I believe that this is the same idea that Solomon had when he wrote this proverb.  In order to “find” the hidden gems that lie within the pages of God’s Word that lead us to “life… and health to all their flesh” we have to relentlessly search for and discover them.  It won’t happen with just an occasional, casual look.  No, we have to become like Indiana Jones as he searched across the globe for undiscovered artifacts that bring history to light and help to explain many of the unanswered questions concerning past cultures and present day customs.

By diligently searching through God’s Word, one will discover the historical facts for present day beliefs and truths as well as fountains of peace, love, joy, wisdom, honor, discernment and clean and pure direction for our daily lives.  Wow!  Just thinking about it gets me excited… what about you?

When you open your Bible up, do you find the heart and excitement of an explorer rising up inside you?  I sure do!  Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I expecting to discover new and exciting findings each time I open up my Bible?”

Monday, October 2, 2017

The Voice!


Just about every time I open the screen door leading out to the deck and the backyard beyond, our dog Fiver makes a mad dash to the fence with our neighbors yard facing east and checks to see if the dog a couple of houses over is out and about.  Then he goes to the front fence looks around, makes a 180 degree turn and runs to the back of the yard, follows the fence line all along the back, the east side of our property, the other side of the house facing the street and then makes a beeline back to his original starting point.  On some days like yesterday, he’ll repeat the process before zeroing on specific areas of the yard to investigate.

I am not always sure what he is looking for.  It could be the scent of the rabbits that come under the fence from the wooded areas that surround two sides of the lot.  It might be the squirrels that seem to be everywhere lately, or the various birds, lizards, the occasional snake and the plentitude of flying insects of varying shapes, sizes and accompanying noises!.  Yesterday afternoon he broke from his normal routine and circled the shed in the far corner of the yard three times before heading up the fence line!  I am kind of interested at what I might find in the shed today when I go to pull out the mower!

My point with Fiver is that he is always excitedly looking for new adventures whenever he goes outside.  You can see it in his eyes as he looks over the whole area with a heart of discovery!  Then if I should grab one of his many toys out in the yard and press the enclosed squeaker, he’ll go absolutely bonkers and make a mad, flying run and leap across the yard to where I am standing!  He absolutely LOVES having interactions with me and his beloved ball toys!

In this sense, Fiver has much in common with the writer who penned Proverbs 4:20-22 when he declared: “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings.  Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart.  For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh.” (KJV) 

When the pooch goes out back he becomes very attentive to the sights and sounds around him… and has to investigate every noise, every sound and every smell that comes to his senses.  You can just see it as his big floppy ears might stand straight up, or fold back or sit somewhere in between as he reacts to what’s happening around him.  I think one could also say that all the activity that he is investigating brings life into his very being!

According to our scripture, this is also the way that you and I should react to the Word of God!  Now, don’t misunderstand me here… I am not implying that we need to go bursting outside in our yards and/or neighborhoods and run all around… although, I do enjoy running after the dog as I toss him his ball each day… but what I am directly implying that we should have that same excitement, zeal and sense of discovery every time we open up the pages of our Bibles!  I find that I really look forward to getting into my Bible study each morning.  Like Fiver, I love to have interactions with my heavenly Father and can’t imagine ever skipping a day no matter how busy my schedule might be.

Strong’s Hebrew and Greek Dictionaries states that the word translated “attend” literally means, again like Fiver’s reactions, “to prick up the ears.”  The Greek translation of the Hebrew word is defined as: “to apply one’s self to, attach one’s self to, hold or cleave to a person or a thing, to be given or addicted to.” (Thayer’s)  I think if Piper and I were honest, we would have to confess that we are, in a good sense, “addicted” to the Word of God… and have been for the great majority of our 47 years together!

I was thinking about this over the weekend and telling my wife that I can’t hardly think of any major (and most minor) decisions that we made without going to the Word and prayer first.  When first faced with the diagnosis of dementia in Piper, I clearly remember taking her hand at home and praying over her, declaring God’s will as stated for her healing in the Word of God.  There was no other way to go as far as we were… and still are concerned!  Yes I have thoroughly researched the disease and we have stayed on the cutting edge with medications and natural remedies that have proper research to support their claims, but our first and foremost trust has always been in the Lord and His Word.

The Message Bible tells us to: “Listen well to my (God’s) word; tune your ears to my voice.”  I think that this paraphrase perfectly describes the process we have followed in every adventure – both good and bad – that we have gone through over the years.  As I related, first we go to the Lord through His Word and prayer, and then we tune our spiritual ears into God’s frequency… and never move the dial!  Every time we get input from other people we always tend to immediately filter their words through what God has spoken to us in His Word and within our hearts.  And like I keep saying, as far as we are concerned, His voice ALWAYS has the final say!

Have you ever considered whose voice has the final say in your life, in the various decisions that you are faced with each and every day?  Hummmm…. Something to consider, wouldn’t you say?

Have a great new week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Who’s VOICE am I expecting to tune into when the decisions of life come about?”

Friday, September 29, 2017

Fall into Thanksgiving!


As I opened the blinds to the two long windows in our living room that looks over our front yard and the neighborhood beyond us this morning, my attention was drawn to the Red Double Knockout Rose bush I planted last summer.  It really took off a few months back and has been producing a plentitude of gorgeous blooms.  I stood at the window for a few extended moments in the quiet solitude of the early morning and found myself thanking Papa God for the beauty of that particular bush as well as for the beauty of the surroundings within our neighborhood.

After assisting my wife with breakfast a little while later, I sat down in my chair at the dining room table and pressed the Home button on my new iPhone 7 Plus and looked over the various alerts that had popped up on the screen throughout the night and early morning.  One of messages was from the ABC 11 app from a Raleigh TV station. 

As I’ve most likely mentioned before, we live in a country neighborhood in the small agricultural county of Harnett.  But even though we are away from city lights, noise and traffic, we are only about 30 minutes due south of North Carolina’s State Capital at Raleigh.  So, Raleigh’s major network news stations also cover our area even though we are in a different county.

Anyway… The ABC 11 news app posted on my phone read: “LITTLE MORE LIKE FALL TODAY!”  The weather for the last couple of weeks has been ranging from the high eighties to low nineties and it was even warmer yesterday.  But today everything changed!  Today’s forecast and continuing into the middle of next week calls for the temperature to hover in the mid-seventies and then the very low eighties for a while after that.  So it looks like fall has finally taken hold here in North Carolina.

Like my quiet moments of contemplation at the front window this morning, fall is the season of the year that always causes me to look back on the past year and thank God for all the blessings that He has bestowed on us during the other three seasons of the current year.  Psalm 100 immediately comes to mind and especially verse four where the Psalmist boldly declares that he will “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” (KJV) 

So therefore at this time of year I tend to look at everything around me with the eyes and heart of thanksgiving unto Papa God.  Whether it is the red roses, golden Marigolds and the red Geranium I planted at the beginning of the summer in the front or the tall green vegetable plants in their special raised bed planter along with all the tall trees, green vines and variety of flowers that popped out from those vines throughout the summer months in the backyard, I am so thankful for another year of enjoyment in the home that the good Lord provided for us.

I am happy and thankful that I had the privilege of celebrating my precious wife’s birthday in August, especially since I wasn’t too positive that she would see that day after a rough start at the beginning of the new year back in January.  I am also thankful for the new friends we’ve made in the neighborhood, around town and especially with all the helpful and giving folks at Liberty Hospice who are helping me with Piper’s needs. 

I am thankful for our kids and their love and support and especially for our older daughter Jamie and her daily calls, texts and our weekly get togethers, as well as for my almost daily conversations with my cousin Laura in California.  I always enjoy her family news, encouraging words and timely antidotes!  And yes I am also thankful for our 65 pound Blue Merle Australian Shepherd mix pup who gives me hours of laughter and enjoyment each and every day… and the list could go on and on, but then the post would get too long and nobody would read it!

Fall also gets me excited about the approaching holidays and then the start of a brand new year.  So what about each of you?  What are you thankful for during the events of your life over this last year?  For a moment, just forget the down times and the rough moments and concentrate on the good things that you can be thankful for.  I would bet you that you’ll be surprised at just how good a year it actually has been!

Have a great weekend as you spend some time looking for and then thanking God for His many blessings over this year… and as you do, keep asking yourself… “How many GOOD THINGS am I expecting to be thankful for today?”

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Churning Seas...


Have you ever taken the time to think about the various occurrences that happen in your life each and every day?  About the different people that come across your path as you walk through the store, at work, at church or in all the parking lots that you may traverse?  I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately as I have been studying the story of Jesus walking on the water. Today I switched authors and read from John’s account of the event.  Although they are both very similar, John seems to leave out a few details that Matthew penned.  His version reads:

“In the evening his disciples went down to the sea, got in the boat, and headed back across the water to Capernaum. It had grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned.  A huge wind blew up, churning the sea.  They were maybe three or four miles out when they saw Jesus walking on the sea, quite near the boat. They were scared senseless, but he reassured them, ‘It's me. It's all right. Don't be afraid.’  So they took him on board. In no time they reached land—the exact spot they were headed to.” (John 6:16-21 MSG)

A few things immediately caught my attention as I looked at this.  First was the thought of it having “grown quite dark and Jesus had not yet returned.”  It would seem that the disciples were getting more than just a little concerned of their surroundings and of the fact that Jesus was nowhere to be found!  Many of these men were fisherman by trade and most likely could “read” the sounds, sights and feel of the water they were fishing on.  They probably sensed that a negative weather change was coming when the huge wind “blew up” around them.

Have you ever had things seem to “blow up” all around you when you were doing something for the Lord?  I sure have!  Then just as the boat begins to get tossed about, they spot something coming at them… WALKING ON THE WATER!  So, how did these brave fisherman handle the situation?  John says that they were “scared senseless!”  But Jesus wasn’t about to have any of that with His ministerial association team.  He quickly put their greatest fears to rest by calmly declaring to them, “It’s me.  It’s alright.  Don’t be afraid.” 

Well, His comforting words must have worked because the disciples calmed down enough to think straight again and help Jesus into the boat.  Then I love the ending of the story as it continues stating that following this, “In no time they reached land – (at) the exact spot they were heading to.”  John doesn’t say anything about the storm ceasing, just that they quickly got to the other side.  I think from his point of view, they were so happy, and so at peace that he didn’t even notice the positive change in the weather… that by keeping your eyes and your trust on Jesus, you’ll always get where He wants you to go… even in the midst of a storm!

One of the big talking points I received from both Matthew’s and John’s accounts of this event, was that Jesus came to them in the middle of their periling time in the midst of a storm, walking on the very thing that was threatening them!  In his commentary entitled: “Through the Bible Day by Day,” F.B. Meyer said: “He uses the element we dread as the path for His approach. The waves were endangering the boat, but Jesus walked on them. In our lives are people and circumstances we dread, but it is through these that the greatest blessing of our lives will come, if we look through them to Christ.”

The Lord keeps reminding me of all the times over the last ten years, when He sent his emissaries across Piper’s and my path in order to help us in many of the different situations that we found ourselves in at any given moment.  I have mentioned of how we expected to fall right back into to our old lives with the former network of family and friends when we returned after attending Bible School in Oklahoma.  But like I stated, it just didn’t happen as planned.

What actually happened thoroughly surprised us.  When some within the old network had a difficult time adjusting to Piper’s health changes, other casual friends and relatives outside of our daily level of interaction, as well as complete strangers seemed to come out of the woodwork when we needed them the most!  And you know… the same thing has continued out here, some 3000 miles away from our hometown in California.

Through the many revelations I’ve been receiving from the various accounts of the story of Jesus walking on the water, I am coming to understand that in many ways, all these different people and events that have positively happened to us are examples of Jesus walking on the water in the midst of the “churning” of the sea!  I am not sure if some of these folks were angels in disguise, or just individuals that were open to be used of the Lord to assist us… or if it was Jesus Himself, but these helpful incidents just keep happening to us!

A couple of weeks ago as I was getting ready to lift Piper from her chair in the parking lot and place her back into the car at our CVS pharmacy in Fuquay Varina, an older Hispanic man who had been nonchalantly leaning next to a car across from us, suddenly became aware of our presence and quickly jogged up to us and held Piper chair for me.  Now, I never mentioned that I had previously locked the wheels on the chair so that it wasn’t going to go anywhere, but I just went ahead and picked up my wife and set her in the front passenger seat.  I thanked the man profusely for his help, but he never said a word!  He just gave me a nod and went back to his car.

Last week we took our pooch to the Vet and as I was getting ready to lift Piper out of the car in the parking lot, the side door of the Vet’s office opens up and two of their techs came out and up to us asking if they could help by taking care of Fiver while I moved Piper!  As I thought about that event on the way home after the appointment, I mentioned to Piper that the handicap parking place is not visible from the windows of the Vet’s office… so how did they know we were out there?

Like I said… this happens over and over again.  In one of our “darker” moments, when we were leaving the hospital after Piper’s two day emergency stay there back at the end of December, the young doctor who had been attending Piper during her stay, walked us out, along with one of the nurses to our car and assisted me as I got my weak little wife into the car.  Then she stood there in the cold and talked to me for a while, giving me all kinds of friendly and knowledgeable comfort and advice as to what we could expect from our decision to call in hospice.  We had been to hospitals on many occasions back in our hometown and we were lucky if we saw the various doctors for more than five minutes each time!

So my point?  While I don’t believe that Papa God causes some of the unfortunate things that each of us find ourselves dealing with in this life, I do believe that as long as we keep our eyes and our trust upon Him and His Word, that we’ll discover many occasions when He walks on the water to us in the midst of the darkest times and storms of our lives!

I bet that if take a few moments right now to think about it, you’ll realize that some of the folks you’ve come across are actually some of these God-lead water-walkers… sent to assist you!

Have a great rest of the week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… “Am I really expecting Papa God to send someone across the churning seas that I may find myself in the midst of today?”

Monday, September 25, 2017

Sing, Shout and Leap!


It is hard for me to believe that we are into our fourth day of fall already!  It seems like summer just began, and here we are thinking about trick or treat, pumpkins, hot apple cider, Thanksgiving and then Christmas!  I guess the one thing we can always be assured of in this life is that the different seasons of the year will always come and go no matter what else is happening around us!

I think that the same could be said for the different seasons in our lives!  I enjoyed this last summer here in North Carolina.  It seemed to me that it was a bit cooler and definitely not as humid as last year.  I can remember thinking back in July of all the summer projects I had and wishing that the nicer weather would continue so that I could complete them all!  Well, as it turn out, I got about half of them completed! 

The project I wanted to finish most was the first section of our raised bed garden.  As it got later and later into the summer I told Piper that I was still going to plant some veggies no matter when I got it finished!  And although I ended up planting some tomatoes and zucchini at the end of July and beginning of August, I have already harvested at least one zucchini and there are a multitude of tomatoes slowly ripening on the vines!

One of the many things I’ve picked up from my wife over the years is her uplifting efforts to pray for and enjoy the various seasons of our lives.  I can clearly recall her confession at the beginning of the holiday’s, school year, our kid’s life events, various church projects we led, and other important times in our lives that “this was going to be the best _____________ we have ever had!”  And you know… the memory of that confession helped us many a time when things weren’t going as well as we hoped, or we hit a snag, or just felt our energy waning. 

Throughout my life I have found myself in the same spot as the disciples did when they were rowing their boat across a lake when a storm suddenly came up.  Previous to this, Jesus had commanded the disciples to go on ahead of Him at the end of a long day of preaching to a huge crowd of hungry listeners while He stayed behind to dismiss the crowd and then find some solitude in prayer with His heavenly Father.

Matthew 14:24 takes up the story explaining, “Meanwhile, the boat (that the disciples were traveling in) was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves.” (The Message)  I found it interesting as I read this today, that the disciples were right in the middle of doing EXACTLY what Jesus had told them to do when the storm came up.  John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible tells us that “the Syriac and Persic versions say, it was "many furlongs from land"; and the Arabic expressly says, "about twenty five furlongs": which account seems to be taken from John 6:19…”

It looks to me that by the time the storm came up, the disciples were well committed to their course of action and could not turn back at that time.  Have you ever been in a situation like that?  I sure have…  In fact it happened to me just the other night when I was helping my wife to get ready for bed.  She was extremely weak that night and to be honest, my strength was waning more than usual!  As I sat on my knees and took off her shoes, I suddenly felt totally drained and leaned back thinking that I didn’t know if I had the strength or not to finish the job and gently get her into the bedroom and bed.

But, as I sat there and looked up at her thin countenance, I reached deep inside and verbally proclaimed that there was no one else to help me at the moment and I HAD to complete the task at hand!  I also reminded myself that if Papa God thought me to be able to take care of my sweet wife, then He could give me the strength to make it through THIS night.  (I’ve learned to take this ONE day at a time!)

Then I remembered Nehemiah 8:10 and how “The Joy of the Lord is our strength” (KJV personalized) and began to sing that simple children’s song declaring that “the joy of the Lord is my strength” and then the funny verses that we sang countless times throughout the years of children’s ministry: “If you want joy you must SING for it (la la), If you want joy you must SHOUT for it, if you want joy you must LEAP for it…”  although I must admit that I didn’t leap at that point like we would have done in Children’s Church but I did burst out laughing at the antics going on in our bathroom that night… and miraculously discovered that I had the strength to finish my responsibilities for the evening!

I looked up how far 25 furlongs would be in miles and it comes to about 3.25 miles.  So, they were a ways into it… but they kept going and didn’t turn around.  Yea they may have panicked and screamed when they saw Jesus walking on the water thinking it was an eerie apparition (most of us might have done the same thing!)… but they kept rowing toward their destination!

And Jesus came into their boat, met their need and they completed that part of their mission so that they could help Jesus minister to ALL the sick in the land of Gennesaret on the other side of the lake… EXACTLY where Jesus had told them to go!

So what do you think?  How many times have you found yourself so far into a project that you couldn’t stop or couldn’t go back and had no choice but to suck-it-up and complete the task at hand?  When that happens, I’ve found that the best thing to do is to follow the example of the disciples on that early morning adventure many years ago…

Scream?  NO!  Invite Jesus into your boat!  His presence has the tendency to immediately calm things down and give you the strength to go on!

Hummm… I like that idea!  What about you?  Have a good week, and as you do, keep asking yourself… What am I expecting to do when it looks like I don’t have the strength or ability to go on?