Friday, September 28, 2012

A Pox Upon You. . .

Chickenpox is a viral infection common among children, particularly those under age 12.  

Chickenpox cont'd
 (Photo credit: Jacob Johan)
When a child has chickenpox they develop, on average, 250 to 500 small, itchy, fluid-filled blisters over red spots on the skin.   Most pox will not leave scars unless they become infected with bacteria from scratching. Usually the child recovers without complications. It used to be one of the classic childhood diseases. However, it has become much less common since the introduction of the chickenpox vaccine.

Once a child has had chickenpox, as have most of the adults of my age who lived before the time of the chickenpox vaccine, the virus usually remains dormant, or asleep, in the body for a lifetime.  About 1 in 10 adults will experience the virus emerge, for some unknown reason but usually during a period of stress, as shingles.

While it usually isn't a life-threatening condition, shingles can be very painful. Shingles can occur anywhere on your body,  but it most often appears as a single stripe of blisters that wraps around either the left or the right side of your torso.  It can also appear on your face, I know because that's where my shingles appeared, on the left side of my nose and face.

Ask anyone who has had shingles and they won't talk about the rash.  They won't talk about the blisters.  They will talk about the pain.  For some unfortunate individuals the pain continues past the rash.   Postherpetic neuralgia occurs when the nerves have been damaged after an outbreak of shingles.  The pain can last for months or years.

Bitterness is like chickenpox.  When we first allow bitterness to harbor in our hearts, it doesn't seem too damaging.  It's a little thing, a little anger at that person, a little desire for vengeance.  We may even forget it is there, but it is and it is growing. It takes root, just like the herpes zoster virus.  It isn't gone just because the rash has cleared up.

Then later we realize -- or maybe we don't but others do-- the bitterness has begun to creep into all aspects of our lives.  We aren't just bitter about that one thing, but now it is so easy to be bitter about almost everything.  The pain of anger, bitterness and hatred has taken over.

It is no wonder the Apostle Paul gave us this command:

 "Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:   And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you,"  (Ephesians 4:31,32).

He knew that even the tiniest amount of bitterness and wrath would seethe and grow in our hearts until it became a consuming force.  Paul said "let ALL bitterness" I suppose because he meant ALL.  We should not harbor ANY bitterness in our hearts toward others.

Let us take this command to heart and through the grace of God choose to forgive those in our lives based not on their merit, not on our merit, but based solely on the grace and mercy which has been shown to us, "even as God for Christ's sake" hath forgiven us.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reset, please.

At work, we have a different password for every computer program we touch.  To make it more 
Mac Mini at Work
 (Photo credit: Accretion Disc)
 complicated, the systems are designed to require us to reset our passwords every 180 days.  Many of the systems will not allow you to use a password you have ever used on that system before.

This is not a problem for me except for one program, the one we use to print patient labels.  For some reason I can never remember my password to that program.  I have had to email Delanea at Information Systems numerous times for her to reset my password.  It has even become a running joke between the two of us.  I am glad she has such a wonderful attitude about her job and she never seems to tire of me requesting again to have my password reset.  In fact, I just had to email her the last night I worked to once again reset me.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 
 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened," (Matthew 7:7,8.) 

Our preacher told us this past Sunday that the verb tense for this "ask, seek and knock" is one of "keep on asking, keep on seeking and keep on knocking."  How wonderful that our Lord never tires of us doing so.  I know there are times when I tire of hearing our grandchildren's constant requests, but God never tires of hearing us come to Him with our needs and desires.  In fact, when we do so, we are communicating that we are in the perfect position.  We are in a position of communication with Him and a position of faith.  We are affirming that we have a dependence upon Him and that we are strong, not in our own strength, but in the "power of His might."

So let us have "boldness and access with confidence by the faith of Him," that the Lord we approach in prayer is not only able to do that which we ask, but desires to hear our voice.  He never tires of our asking, He never wearies in our seeking, He never cringes at our knocking.  We can boldly approach the throne of grace "that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." 

". . .let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely."
Song of Solomon 2:14

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Groaning and Travailing

In my job I have often had the opportunity to watch as a woman "groaneth and travaileth" in labor. Speaking
from experience, I consider this to be a perfect descriptor.  I have watched many women working hard to deal with the pain of contractions and then later working even  harder pushing with them.

Breastfeeding offers benefits for both mother ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Then the moment comes when that baby is placed in her arms and her sorrow turns into joy.  The tears of pain and frustration still on her cheeks mingle with the tears of relief and exultation.  The labor is gone and the baby is birthed in it's place.

Our Lord described it perfectly:

"A woman when she is in travail hath sorrow, because her hour is come: but as soon as she is delivered of the child, she remembereth no more the anguish, for joy that a man is born into the world."  John 16:21

As we walk out this Christian life here on this planet which bears the evidence of being cursed, and as we are reminded we have the enemies of the world, the flesh and the devil to tempt us along the way, we too groan and travail in labor.  Our spirits have been redeemed, but we are waiting, as is the whole of creation, for the redemption of our earthly bodies, that fleshly component of ourselves.

When we face the pains of our labors here, let us have hope for what is to come.  Let us remember that at the end of the day there awaits a full and complete redemption:

"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.   And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.  For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?   But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." Romans 8:22-27 
Let us hold that laboring mother as an example that, as the Apostle Paul said, "I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us," (Romans 8:18.)  We may have trials and pains, temptations and difficulties here, but there will come a day when all that shall be past and the God and Lord of Glory Himself shall wipe away the tears from our eyes.  Then there "shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."  

Have hope, there are great days ahead!

" ...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."  
Psalm 30:5

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Amazing Flashlight

For my birthday this month, my son gave me a present I love.  It is a 200-lumen, 3-mode flashlight.  It
SureFire CREE L1
(Photo credit: mr.smashy)
 is amazing how far and how bright this flashlight shines.  I carry it with me everywhere.  It does a wonderful job of illuminating the darkness even at a distance.

I thought about my flashlight today when I heard a preacher say, "When weak Christians are illuminated, what do they see?"  Then he answered his own question, "They see God."

He continued to say that fire can consume, but it also illuminates.  The Word of God is a fire to us as Christians.  We read it, we let it soak into our hearts and it consumes and illuminates.  It consumes that which needs to be burned away. . .those things in our lives which are not conformed to the image of the Lord Jesus.

It also illuminates.  It allows us to see the power of the Lord in our lives working out His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus.

The three Hebrew men who were captives in Babylon knew about fire and illumination. Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the fiery furnace, but they weren't consumed, they were illuminated.  And so was the "fourth form" walking in the furnace with them.  Nebuchadnezzar said "the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."  We all know why he thought the fourth man looked like the Son of God, because He WAS the Son of God.

If we are willing to turn on the "flashlight" the Lord has given us, He will illuminate us to His presence all around us in our own fiery furnaces.  He will reveal Himself to us in ways we never imaged possible and our lives will be a testimony to all who witness it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

'The Purposeless Fence

Today we were leaving driving down the road and I noticed a house with a white picket fence out
English: Picket fence
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
front.  That's not too unusual a sight, except this fence was only the strip along the front of the yard.  There were no sides to the fence and no gate.

Now a fence normally exists either to contain something, such as a pet or small children, or to protect what is inside of it from intruders.  This piece of fence, although pretty, could do neither.  It could serve only one purpose, to be seen. It was white enough and it was straight enough, but it had no real functionality, it was simply there for show.

This dysfunctional fence made me think of experiences I have had in my own life.  When we do things "for the Lord" sometimes they can be like that piece of picket fence.  It looks good on the outside, but it has no true function.  Even if the actions are right enough, if the motives are wrong, then the actions are as worthless as that strip of fence.

 "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, 
I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  
And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, 
and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, 
and have not charity, I am nothing.  
And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, 
and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
I Corinthians 13:1-3 

Our actions and deeds, no matter how good they seem on the outside, must have a motive of love, and not just any love. It must be a love that follows the example of the nature and character of Christ: 

 "... Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart,
 and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; 
and thy neighbour as thyself."
Luke 10:27

I have pondered this often.  Just what is my motive for the things I do?  How often is my motive the love of God and the love of neighbour and how often is it something else?  How often is it to be well-thought of, or to be thought of as a "good person"?  

How many "Christian" acts are done out of pride and vanity instead of humility and lowliness of heart?  How many church visits are made with the purpose of attracting a date, or a mate, a business deal or higher place in society?  

May we humble ourselves and ask the Lord to search our hearts and purify our motives so that what we do for Him is truly for Him and not in some way shape or form for ourselves.  

Let the prayer of David often be on our hearts:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Psalms 139:23,24 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Trains, Planes and Automobiles

Our family is planning a trip to New York next year.  The six adults are all planning their own transportation
GO train cars at Georgetown railway station (p...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
for the 1200+ mile trip.

Our youngest daughter and her boyfriend will still be in college and will have to accommodate their class schedules.  They will fly.  Our oldest daughter, an attorney, also has a busy schedule to deal with and she plans to fly as well.

My husband and I have always wanted to take a train trip, so we are using this opportunity to ride the train for 25 hours.  I hope it will be as pleasurable as we anticipate.

Our son has not yet decided how he will arrive, but I doubt he will drive.

Regardless of our method of transportation, we each have one thing in common: we have a destination.  In our case, we have the same destination.  Usually when you board a plane, a train or even take an automobile ride, you do so with a destination in mind.  Even if you plan to enjoy the journey, as we do with the train ride, the main point is to get somewhere.

Our lives are a journey as well and at the end, there is a destination.  Where is the destination for your life?  There will be a station waiting for you depending upon the choices you have made.  It will be too late when the train pulls into the station, or when the plane lands on the tarmac to change your mind.

It really is simple because there are only two choices.  You either choose to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord, and your ticket is stamped with the destination of "Heaven," or you choose not to and you get the default destination. . .an eternity of a lonely hell apart from every comfort and every glimpse of the Love and Glory of God.

Choose wisely.  Choose today.  You are already on your journey and no one knows when your train is pulling into the station.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. 

But he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." John 3:16-19

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Valley of the Shadow. . .

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:

He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: 
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. 

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
 for Thou art with me; 
Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me.  
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: 
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever. 

I have long pondered this Psalm, especially the phrase, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death."  

The thing which strikes me about it is what it doesn't say.  It doesn't say "through the valley of death."  David clearly describes the Great Shepherd leading His dear one through a valley which is shadowed by death.

For those who have come to know the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, there is no death in the sense of ceasing to be.  In fact, those who have come to know the Lord are said to have "eternal life."

"And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent," John 17:3

Not only that, but for the Christian, the moment life escapes from our earthly bodies, our spiritual lives are in the presence of the Lord.  I personally don't believe that moment of passing from this life to our eternal life, which Paul described as "far better," will be a difficult passage.  In fact, I believe it will be just the opposite.

The moment a Christian prepares to depart this world and enter into Heaven, I believe the angels of God form such a welcoming party that we could not imagine the wonder of it.  And our own Great Shepherd, who ever seeks after that lost sheep, will surely be there to walk us through the "paths of righteousness" which He has created with His own nail-scarred feet.

The mountain of death may be nearby, but it is only the shadow of death which falls across us, and the shadow cannot hurt us.  For us, no climbing of a dreadful mountain, but walking in the sweet valley with our Savior.

Our dear friend Larry tells the story of his father's recent passing to Heaven.  His father had been a minister throughout his life and even into his last months was faithfully believing and trusting his Lord.  As the moments of his passing drew near, those around him said he would look up toward the ceiling and with the look of amazement on his face state, "Is it really this easy?  Can it be this easy?"

When my own father died, a close friend called the next morning.  His first words were, "I hear your father moved to a better neighborhood."  There was nothing better that could have been said.  An easy move to a far better neighborhood!

So let us have hope and not fear that passage before us.  As with the rest of our lives, we will not travel it alone, our Shepherd will be there with us and we "shall not want" and we "will fear no evil."   We will have an easy, glorious journey home.

"We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, 
and to be present with the Lord." 
2 Corinthians 5:8

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." 
Philippians 1:21

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Rainy Days and Mondays. . .

This past Monday was a dark, grey rainy day.  My husband and I were traveling down the road and I commented about the color of a particular road sign.  My husband thought I said "sun".

He laughed and said, "I don't see the sun," and even as he said it he realized he had misunderstood what I had said.

"Whether we can see it or not, I have it on great authority that the sun is still there," was my reply.

That statement is so true.  No matter how dark the clouds or storm makes the day, we know the sun is still there.  It hasn't ceased to be.  Why do we know it is there?  Because it has always been there, every morning, every day for as long as we, or anyone else for that matter, can remember.  We have total and complete faith in the sun that it will continue to come up every morning and set every evening.

If we have such unshakable faith in the sun, which is a physical thing that could possibly cease to be at some point, how much more unshakable faith should we have in the Lord and God of the universe who "was and is and is to come?" (Revelation 4:8.)

The Lord our God is and has been eternal, He has always been and will always be exactly what He is and He will never do anything which contradicts His nature and character. 

We can have faith that our Lord will always be for us in every situation exactly what we need Him to be, that He will always be working out His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus in our lives and that He is always for us.  It is a fact we can believe in even more surely than the sun rising in the east each morning.

"Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; 
as a vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed:   
But thou art the same, and thy years shall have no end." 
Psalm 102:25-27

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Glimpses of Love

I have seen many "glimpses of love" in my lifetime.  Thousands of times I have seen a brand-new baby handed into the arms of a new mother.  I have watched as mother, and father, cry and joy over their new child.

I have seen glimpses of love between my grandchildren.  Jackson is only a year older than Emma, but he is in every way the "big brother".  He is always watching out for her and taking care of her.  If she is upset, he is there to comfort her.  If he suspects she may be fearful, he is there waiting.

This past Saturday we took Emma for her very first ballet class.  She was not nervous in any way, shape or form.  As soon as we walked through the door of the studio, she ran into the room and began dancing to the music in her head.   Jackson, however, was nervous for her.  He didn't want to leave, but sat outside the room and watched through the one-way window.  Finally he moved away from the window and watched her on the big screen television above the window.  It was only halfway through the class before he realized she was going to be ok that he finally relaxed.  Watching Jackson, I was glimpsing love.

I see glimpses of love in the cup of coffee my husband so faithfully brings me every morning.

During the Olympics we saw glimpses of love when a winning athlete would run into the arms of a mother or father for a long and tearful embrace.

Don't we enjoy seeing things like this?  Don't they warm our heart and sometimes even bring tears to our eyes?  Why is that?

It is because whenever and wherever we see glimpses of love, of true unselfish love, we can know one thing. . .we are somehow seeing glimpses of the love of God.  The Scriptures tell us "God is love," (1 John 4:16)  He is somehow the source of all true love and He is the only One who can love in the way that is always true, always unselfish and always faithful in every motive.

So somehow in the mystery that is Godliness, when we see these earthly glimpses of true love, we are seeing our Lord manifesting Himself in that situation.  He works in and through His children to manifest  His character and way and to conform us to the image of His dear Son.  When we see these acts of love, it's fine to feel that warmth of heart and even to shed tears, but let us also send up praises to the God who is love and that "...when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly," (Romans 5:6).

“His love is perfected in us.”
(I John 4:12)

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Hope of Things Yet To Be

We live in a  sub-tropical location, and our city is the only seaport in our state.  Mobile sits on the edge of  the fourth largest estuary in the United States. 

The Spanish, Tensaw, Apalachee and Blakeley Rivers run together into Mobile Bay from the northern side, while Dog River, Deer River, and Fowl River run into the bay from the western side.  Fish River runs into the bay from the eastern side.   Our city has 118 miles of land area and 41 miles of water area.

Not only do we have water all around, but we have water from above, too.  A 2007 study  determined that Mobile is the wettest city in the contiguous 48 states, with 66.3 inches of average annual rainfall over a 30-year period.    

Our elevation above all that water is between 10 and 200 feet, depending upon where you live.  All this tends to make our weather  not only hot, but humid, making it feel even hotter than it is by the thermometer.

But today it is 76° outside and tomight the temperature will get down to 68°.

For the Deep South in the middle of September, that is a wonderful thing.  The slight coolness of the air, that hint of crispness in the morning, is the hope of something yet to be.  You see, we don't really have "winter" as much of the country experiences winter.  Snow is a rare, but celebrated thing here.  More than "winter" we have an absence of summer, a respite from that heat and humidity.

  So these cool mornings and evenings are a hope of things yet to be.  They are a promise of what will come.

Feeling the relief of a cool breeze and a comfortable evening reminds me that these promises are like other promises we have been given.  We have been given a whole book of promises of ". . .that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;" (Titus 2:13).   

Let us avail ourselves of the promises that have been set before us, to give us hope and comfort regarding those things yet to be.  As the Apostle Paul said, "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope," (Romans 15:4).

As as we feel the cool morning that is a promise for the relief from summer heat, let it lift our hearts that there is a time coming when the heat of our hearts will be lifted as well.  Let us have hope. . ."And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us," (Romans 5:5).

 "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, 
that ye may abound in hope, 
through the power of the Holy Ghost." 
Romans 15:13

Friday, September 14, 2012

Through The Bathroom Door

Today is my only granddaughter Emma's fifth birthday.

Emma is a beautiful, curious, talented little girl with the energy of five five-year-olds.  When she comes to visit, she is stuck to me like glue.

I guess it was inevitable with a nickname of "Frannie" that when I became a grandmother I would be called "Grannie Frannie."  Although I have highly encouraged the dropping of the "Grannie" part, both the rhyme and my name is now set forever in the minds of my grandchildren.

Emma seems to start every sentence with "Grannie Frannie. . ."   Sometimes I think I hear that name a thousand times in a weekend.

I confess there are times I go to the bathroom just to be able to have a moment or two alone.  Only I'm not really alone, I still have to converse with Emma through the bathroom door where she waits for me to come out.

I am so glad our Lord doesn't ever go somewhere to "be alone" and find a respite from our constant calling Him.  Instead, the Scriptures tell us ". . .the prayer of the upright is His delight," (Proverbs 15:8).

Not only does He delight in our prayers but our voices are sweet to Him: "O my dove, that art in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the stairs, let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely," (Song of Solomon 2:14). How wonderful to know that our voices are never old to Him, that He never wearies with our calling of His name.  What an incredible thing to consider that our voice is sweet the the Lord, Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

Emma's little voice is sweet to me, too.  Especially when she says as she did this weekend, "You are the best Grannie Frannie I've ever had!   I love you, Grannie Frannie!"

I truthfully responded, "I love you, too, Emma.  You are the best granddaughter I've ever had! 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

No Neutrality

Nothing in this life is truly neutral in relation to eternity.

Every interaction we have with others is either positive or negative in the light of eternity.  We are either helping them along the way to come to know the Lord initially or we are helping them on their road to rejection of Him.  We are either helping others to know the Lord more or helping them to forsake Him and His Word.  We are either encouraging them in their walk with the Lord or hindering their renewing of their fellowship with the Lord.

Our contact is not neutral.  We are either a positive or negative pole of the magnet.  We are either helping people to live eternally as glorified Christians in the presence and glory of the King of Kings, or we are aiding them to live eternally in the torment and anguish of a lonely, forsaken hell.

That may sound pretty extreme, after all, how can we influence people we have only encountered for a few seconds?

Have you ever had a brief encounter with someone who literally changed your attitude for the day?  Perhaps it was only their smile, or maybe they opened a door for you when your arms were full.  Maybe they let you in front of them in busy traffic.  Such small things, but small things can have a big impact.

Let me tell you about Irene.

I was in line at the grocery store.  My husband had forgotten an item and since the line was moving so
 (Photo credit: Patrick Hoesly)
 slowly he knew he had plenty of time to go back and get it.  I had been called into work on my day off, had just gotten off and was tired. Very tired.  I stood in line in my solitude willing the line to move faster.

An older woman behind me started talking to me.  Basically a shy person, I'm not one to strike up a conversation with strangers too much -- that's what my husband does.  But I answered her questions:  Did I just leave work?  Did I work at a hospital?  Was I a nurse?

Her attitude drew me into the conversation --she was like a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. . .warm, sweet and irresistible.  As we were talking, my husband came back and he, too, began to converse with Irene.  By the time we checked out, we felt as if we had known her forever.  We both gave her a big hug and I realized I didn't feel tired anymore, She had been like a dose of medicine.  She had been a positive influence, encouraging me in my walk with the Lord.

We all know what it is like when we meet negative influences. . .but WE can be those negative ones as well.  Even if we aren't blatantly negative, mean or hateful, if we reject the opportunity to be positive, the opportunity is lost to positively influence that person, perhaps forever.

Let us remember that every person we encounter has been put in our path for a reason.  Maybe all we can do is to smile or to say a kind, "Hello," to open a door, or to ease a burden in some way. But we are there for one purpose, to share the love of the Lord Jesus in some way, shape or form.  Let us not lose the opportunities that abound around us.

"Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, 
always abounding in the work of the Lord, 
forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord."
1 Corinthians 15:58 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Love Your Enemies. . .

This past Saturday we were at the University of South Alabama football game, as we usually are
Ladd-Peebles Stadium
(Photo credit: alwright1)
during football season.  But an interesting thing besides football happened on that field while we were there.

South Alabama was playing Nicholls State from Thibodaux, Louisiana and one of their players was injured.  We waited as the trainers attended him but when the cart wheeled onto the field we realized it might be more serious that just a pulled muscle or a cramp.

It was then that the entire South Alabama football team and coaches made a huddle around the player and trainers on the field.  They motioned for the Nicholls State players on the field to join them and together the two teams prayed for the wounded player.

The crowd was clearly moved.  Quiet, respectful applause went up as they prayed and at the end of the prayer the applause grew to a loud ovation.  These two teams, who had been fiercely playing against each other for half the game, came together to pray for the player who was hurt. . .no matter which uniform he was wearing.

Before he was wheeled away to the hospital, the player on the cart waved to the fans to let them know he was better than we thought and again applause erupted from the stands.

If nothing else, Christians should be known to be good-hearted and kind.  We should be those who are "swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath."   Let us remember when the circumstances of life put us in opposition to others, that the Lord Jesus called us to "Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you,"  (Luke 6:28.) 

It is not how we respond when we are treated well which most shows the character of our Lord in us, but how we respond when we are ill-treated.  We have the example of our Lord to follow and the leading of His Holy Spirit in us to work out His love and mercy and forgiveness in and through us toward others.  

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.   And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace."
James 3:17, 18 

English: Symbol used to represent USA
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Go Jags!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012


Yesterday I looked up at the sky to see an airplane cruising by.  As I did I had the same reaction I have had for eleven years. . .I wonder if that plane will actually land or will it crash?

Sometimes I wonder if people have forgotten that horrible morning of September 11, 2001.  

For some, I don't believe the images and thoughts will ever be erase.  The scar of fear must also remain to some degree or I wouldn't be wondering if that plane is going to crash instead of land.
September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...
September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City
(Image: US National Park Service )
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On the day when 19 terrorists  killed almost 3,000 people in America, 1609 people lost a spouse or partner.  More than 3,051 children lost parents.

Not all of those who died were Americans, either. There were 327 foreign nationals killed from 53 countries.  No wonder this attack shook the world.  

The United Kingdom lost more people than any other country other than our own.  I remember one of the most touching scenes to me during that time was when the Star Spangled Banner was played at Buckingham Palace.  The tribute to the United States by our closest friend and ally brought tears to my still does eleven years later.

For this attack which killed more people than the attack on Pearl Harbor, let us pledge to never forget those who died that day.  Especially let us remember the bravery of the firefighters and policemen who ran toward the burning buildings as everyone else was running away.  Let us remember their honor and sacrifice.

As the mother of a police officer, and as a nurse, I understand that sense of duty.  The life of service does not stop because one has clocked out.  Stories abound of off-duty firefighters and police officers who threw their equipment into whatever conveyance they could find and made it somehow to Ground Zero.  Many who did so never returned.  

We have a great land.  One of the things that makes our country great are the everyday people who are willing to leave the safety of their home and sacrifice all for others.  We see it in our first-responders, we see it in our military and we see it in the faces of everyday people who lined up to give blood, to send supplies, who volunteered to help in anyway possible and who fell to their knees in prayer for the families of people they never even knew.

"God be merciful unto us, and bless us; 
and cause His face to shine upon us; Selah. 
That Thy way may be known upon earth, 
Thy saving health among all nations. 
 Let the people praise Thee, O God; 
let all the people praise Thee." 
Psalm 67:1-3

Monday, September 10, 2012


In the 1960's the Andy Griffith show used to feature commercials in which the characters of the show would act out endorsements of various products.  Somewhere during the commercial, Andy would pronounce the product as "Gooood."  His southern accent was accentuated to add even more vowels to the word for emphasis.   The thought was, I suppose, if Andy said it was that "gooood" then it had to be really good.

The Bible tells us over and over that God is good:

"Teach me to do Thy will; for Thou art my God: Thy Spirit is good; 
lead me into the land of uprightness." Psalm 143:10 

"O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good; 
for His mercy endureth for ever." I Chronicles 16:34 

"And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever toward Israel." Ezra 3:11

"Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will He teach sinners in the way." Psalm 25:8

"O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in Him." Psalm 34:8 

"For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; 
and His truth endureth to all generations." Psalm 100:5

"Praise ye the LORD. O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: 
for His mercy endureth for ever." Psalm 106:1

"Praise the LORD; for the LORD is good: 
sing praises unto His name; for it is pleasant." Psalm 135:3 

"The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; 
and He knoweth them that trust in Him." Nahum 1:7 

This is not an exhaustive list of course, but just gives us an idea of how full the Scriptures are of proclamations of the goodness of God.  Or as Andy Griffith would have said, "He's real goooood!"

When someone is "real good" that is not only someone we want to be with, it is someone we can trust.  It is someone we know will be constant and true.  The Lord our God is the one Person in whom we can put our faith and trust and know we will never, NEVER be let down or disappointed.  In fact, He will be for us "abundantly above all that we ask or think."  

We can trust Him because He IS good.

Friday, September 7, 2012

"I Will Give You Rest"

As I wake from my four hour nap after a long night shift, I am naturally contemplating the concept of rest.

There are times when our bodies are so tired we long for rest.  Sometimes we wish for, as Clement Moore described in "Twas the Night Before Christmas," a "long winter's nap."

I remember at the end of my pregnancy with our youngest daughter Emmie, I was working full time at a busy University Center Labor & Delivery.  At that time we were doing just under 400 deliveries a month, there were no "slow days."  Since I knew when our repeat C-Section was scheduled, sometimes I would close my eyes and think, "In X-number of days, I'm going to be in the hospital, and I'm just going to sleep!"  

Of course, I knew it wasn't going to happen that way.  Loving family, supportive friends and dutiful nurses flowed in and out of my hospital room at all hours.  A beautiful newborn wanted to nurse every couple hours as well.  There was little sleep.  The first night, someone came in my room for some reason or other at least every hour during the night.  The next night my physician wrote a note on my door saying no one should enter unless I called them.  She was known to be a fire-brand with a stormy temper and no one dared disobey her order!

Rest is often elusive even when we have opportunity to attain it.  Our bodies may rest and yet our minds may be racing at 100 mph.  But the Bible is full of promises of rest:

 "And He said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest." Exodus 33:14

"Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28 

 "There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God." Hebrews 4:9 

The Lord desires us to rest in Him.  He desires us to trust that He is able to calm the seas of our lives, to quiet the winds of our worlds and to hold us up above the surface of the raging waves.  He would have us to rest as peacefully in Him as that little newborn daughter rested in my arms in those days I was wanting sleep.  

She knew her mother's voice.  She knew her mother's touch and she rested and slept safe and secure.  There is none we can trust more surely than the Lord Jesus.  Not only in the future for that rest of eternity, but in this very minute of toil and turmoil. There is no safe haven apart from Him.  He has not left us and He will never forsake us.  If that be the case, what have we to fear, of what cause is there to worry?  The Lord of Heaven and earth holds us in His very hands. . .we can rest.

 "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
 the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?"  
Psalm 27:1 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Badge

I often find that my badge, or name tag, at work has flipped around so that my name and title is not visible.  Perhaps this was why the Daddy in one of our deliveries asked one of our other nurses who I was.

There had been some issues right about the time the patient was to begin pushing regarding which family members should be in the room.  Evidently some intervention was needed and Robbie, the patient's nurse, was busy doing what we nurses do at that point in time.  I spoke with all the people involved and dealt with the issue. 

After the patient had recovered, as they were being transferred to their postpartum room, the Daddy asked Robbie for her name and then for my name as he couldn't remember them in all the excitement.  Then he asked her about me, "Is she a charge nurse or something?"

Robbie informed him that I was the assistant manager of the unit and he replied that he could sense that from the firmness I had exhibited in the situation.  My attitude reflected the authority of my position, but more than that, it represents authority given to me by "bigger people."

Publicity photo of Andy Griffith and Don Knott...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It reminded me of the episode on The Andy Griffith Show called "Lawman Barney,"in which Barney has an issue with two farmers illegally selling produce on the road.   At the end of the episode Barney  confronts the farmers and finds his inner strength.  As they edge closer towards him in a threatening way, he tells them that despite them both being bigger than he is, his badge "represents a lot of people that are a lot bigger than either one of you."  His courage defeats them and they pack up and leave.

Barney's badge represented the authority of his position. . .it represented "bigger people".

The Lord Jesus Christ is the express image of God...He is the earthly expression of God the Father and God the Spirit.  His physical life represents to us more than just Himself, it represents the whole Trinity, the whole character of the Godhead.  If we want to know what God the Father is like, we just look at the life of the Lord Jesus Christ.  If we want to know what God the Spirit is like, we just look at the Lord Jesus. 

"Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, 
and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins,
 sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;" 
Hebrews 1:3
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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Husbandman

This spring my husband grew tomatoes.  Everyday he would go out and check on his tomato plants.

State fruit - Tomato
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He watered them.  He fed them. He would remove the little suckers at the bottom of the plants, he would check for insects on the plants.  He would look for blooms and later tomatoes.

When the tomatoes came, he covered the plants with netting to prevent the birds and the squirrels from helping themselves to a meal.  He could tell you at any given time how many tomatoes were on the vines.  If a plant became weighted down with it's fruit, he would make sure it was well staked and supported.  If a tomato became split or damaged, he would remove it lest it damage the whole plant. 

Basically, he was intimately involved with every aspect of those plants.  There was not anything the plants needed which was in his power to provide that he did not know about nor provide. He felt responsible for the well-being of those plants and for the crop of tomatoes.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman," (John 15:1).  Jesus is the vine and God the Father is the husbandman.  We are the branches which grow upon the True Vine.  God the Father, as our husbandman, is intimately involved in every aspect of our lives, just as my husband was with those tomatoes.  There is not anything we need of which our Heavenly Father is unaware.  There is not anything we need which He has not already supplied by His own dear Son.

"But my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus," (Philippians 4:19).

If we are weighted down, He provides His Word and fellow Christians around us to be the support to help lift us up and encourage us.

We don't have to be concerned with the fruit produced in our lives.  If we keep our focus on our True Vine our Husbandman will take care of everything needed to produce fruit.  Our focus must be on the Vine because without Him we can do nothing.

"I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in Me, 
and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: 
for without Me ye can do nothing."  
John 15:5
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Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day

I was born on Labor Day.  I think it is both fitting and ironic that became a Labor Room nurse.

My trek to Labor and Delivery was in every way unexpected.  First of all, I never expected to be a nurse.  I had other plans.  I wanted to be a journalist, but a well-meaning relative discouraged me.  Then I planned to go away to college to become a teacher.

A few weeks before I was to leave home I decided I just didn't want to go.  There was a perfectly good University in my town which had an excellent College of Education, but instead of enrolling there, out of the blue I told my family, "I guess I'll go to nursing school."

Now, I had never wanted to be a nurse, had never planned to be a nurse, had never prepared to be a nurse.  But obviously God wanted me to be a nurse.  I had not taken Chemistry in high school and I would need it to get into nurses' training.

I couldn't take Chemistry in summer school, not enough students wanted it to offer it.  I couldn't take it in night school either. My only choice was to take it in college.  Ouch! 

But this is how the Lord works.  I had joined the chorus in college and loved it. I took Chemistry in the accelerated session between the Spring and Summer semester.  Another ouch!  But my professor was one of the choral directors!  At least I had a friend in my instructor.

When he gave out the pretest the first day of class, I looked at the questions and didn't even understand most of the questions!  But, through the grace of God, I passed Chemistry.

The next fall I started the nursing program and graduated without any problems, even though falling in love during that time presented a huge distraction.  After graduation, I wanted to work in a neonatal intensive care, but there were no slots even in the regular nursery where I was to work.  A few days before I graduated one of my classmates came up to me and said, "They have straight day positions open in Labor & Delivery if you want one!"

To this day I can still remember my answer, "Why would anyone want to work in Labor & Delivery?"

God has a sense of humor, doesn't He?

I worked in the Cardiac department of that hospital for three months by the calendar and three years by how it felt to me.  Then I transferred to USA Medical Center to work in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit where I worked for five years. 

During that time I married, got pregnant and attended childbirth classes.  It was during those childbirth classes I fell in love with the concept of labor.  Our Lamaze instructor, Nancy, was a wonderful, kind instructor and I wanted to do exactly what she was doing.  So after our first baby was born, I went through the rigorous training that group required to become one of their instructors.

I also put in a transfer for Labor & Delivery.
Newborn child, seconds after birth. The umbili...
. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have now worked in Labor & Delivery for twenty-nine years.  I have been in about 2800 deliveries.  It has been the most incredible blessing to witness the miracle of birth over and over again -- and each time it is indeed a miracle.  What a thought that our Lord and Savior humbled Himself to be born as a baby...what love and mercy bestowed upon us by One willing to become so little and so totally dependent!

Never could I have imagined my life would have taken the turns it has, and as I reflect on the wisdom of our God on this Labor Day, I can only thank and praise Him for His leading in my life.  I look back over the path and see His hand in the myriads of ways and times that I didn't understand then, but now it makes perfect sense.

"This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. 
O give thanks unto the LORD; for He is good: for His mercy endureth for ever." 
Psalm 118:23,24, 29
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Senior Coffee, Please!

English: A photo of a cup of coffee. Esperanto...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Today I am fifty-five.  I now qualify for the senior coffee at McDonald's with a free refill, too!  That's almost like an endless cup of coffee.  Before the day is over, I plan to stop by there just to order my coffee!

It feels I have gotten here way too soon.  The first couple of decades seemed to drag along.  Each Christmas couldn't come fast enough.  Then I got married and a couple of years later, the babies started coming.

The pace of time sped up.  It reminds me of a ride on a roller coaster.  Those first 50 feet or so just crawl along.  Then the roller coaster takes it's first plunge and after that it only seems to go faster and faster.  I am on that roller coaster.

At this point, I think many people begin to feel panicked.  Statistically, looking at fifty-five you realize there is no way you are going to live to be 110.  Your life is more than half over.  Then the frightening thought begins.. . "I haven't done most of the things I wanted to do yet!"  It reminds me of the opening of an old soap-opera: "Like sands through the hourglass so are the Days of our Lives."

This is what causes panic to set in, as if the sands in our hourglass are running out and before you know it there will be no more sand!  We all remember the Wicked Witch of the West pointing to her hideous hourglass and telling little Dorothy. "This is how long you have left to live!"

But if we are Christians, if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, our "hourglass" contains more sand than all the sands of all the shores and oceans.  Our hourglass is never-ending, sort of like that endless cup of coffee of McDonald's.

Yes, these bodies that house our spirits might one day die, if the Lord tarries.  But our spirits, which is who and what we really are, will live forever.  We will know no end.  One day we will simply breathe out the air of this earth and breathe in the sweet fragrance of our Lord.  And "so shall we ever be with the Lord."

So when the hands of time seem to be rushing by too fast, let us remember that it is "early in eternity," and we have a long and glorious and never-ending life ahead.

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