Saturday, March 12, 2011


Waiting is hard to do! One waits at the gas pumps, at the check-out line, for rides at DisneyWorld, even for commercials to end and the tv show to continue.  Wouldn't you like to reclaim all the time you waited in rush hour traffic or at a stoplight? It's particularly difficult when one waits for crucial news: a medical test to determine cancer, news of loved ones in harms way, or to learn if one has received gainful employment. The latter is where we are right now.

The Bible speaks often on the value of waiting on the Lord. Do a word search sometime. We find waiting is difficult because we are a people who value progress. Waiting is construed as laziness. "Certainly there is something that you can do" - as if one can perform in a way to make God do what you want him to do.  Actually waiting is one of the Christian's greatest works. It is not a passive inactivity. On the contrary, waiting is hard work. It calls for deliberate yieldness of control to God.

If you are looking for work, you have the responsiblity of creating a resume, visiting possible employers, studying, dressing and preparing for the interview. However, the ultimate decision of a job offer rests not in the candidate but in the employer. And for the Christian, the control of one's life rests in the Lord. He's in charge and he guides and directs. Proverbs 3:5-6 saya, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths."  Though the word "wait" is not used here, the precept is. When one waits and trusts in God's leading, and one is willing to allow God to change one's plans, then there is a sense of peace knowing that He is in charge and will direct one's path.

I hope you learn about the blessing of waiting; it beats worrying any day.

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Prodigal has come home

This morning, Twix came home! She was emaciated, weak, and starving - but alive. Twix is one of our three cats that ran from home about a month ago. She's an indoor cat that has not experienced the outdoors until now. Apparently one of the boys accidently left the basement door ajar and Twix wandered away from home. She experienced two snowstorms and several below zero days.

We thought for sure that she had become victim to a wild animal or was driven far from home by the neighborhood dogs. We even believed that she had frozen to death. Yet, we were continually alert to any signs of Twix. There were days when we thought we had heard her meow. It led to an all out search around the house and under the porches. Lately we saw some Twix sightings - a white streak darting across the backyard at night.

Then this morning, she dared to approach the yard. My wife went out with a full cup of cat food and gently waited, calling for her to come out of the woods. Twix relented; completely famished she approached the outstretched hand and devoured the kitty treats.

Our prodigal kitty is now resting comfortably at the foot of our bed, purring. She has lost a great deal of weight and we can count every bone in her scrawny body.

Just when I thought I had a good understanding of Jesus' parable of the Lost Son in Luke 15, I now have new insight on the ravages of sin, the immense love of God and the blessing of a lost one who has come home again. Consider the following from Luke 15:11ff.:
1. A young man chooses to reject the comfort and safety of home and family. He believes that he's missing the fun that others experience in the world. Who cares if it goes against the morals and values of the family or if it brings dishonor, shame, and embarrassment to the father.
2. At first the son is intoxicated by a newly found freedom to do as he pleases - away from the prying eyes of his parents and brother. Then he becomes addicted to pleasure, popularity, and promiscuity
3. After he squanders his money, his so-called friends disappear and he is left financially, emotionally, and spiritually bankrupt. He hits bottom as he is hired to slop hogs.
4. Starving, ragged, and sickly, the homeless man reflects upon the life he had given up, considering that his life of sin brought him to ruin. He remembered home and how the servants lived in his father's house. And he rehearsed what he would say to his father and to his God.
5. In repentance, he turned his heart toward home and fell into the embrace of his ever searching father.

Here's what I learned from our family experience.
1. It's never to late to come home. Regardless of what you have done and where you have been, you can come home again to the outstretched arms of God.
2. Sin is pleasurable for a time but it carries with it a heavy price upon one's soul. The payback is always more than you bargained for. James 1:14-15 states, "but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. It happened to Eve in the garden and it happened to King David (See 2 Samuel 11:2-17).
3. The Father is always searching and waiting for the lost to come home. He's not angry or ready to whip the son. No, there is rejoicing! There's a party! There's expressions of love and acceptance. . Twice in Luke 15 Jesus says, "There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (v.7, 10). Can you picture the father longing, praying, seeking desiring for his son to return home?

Have I described your life? It's not too late to come home to Jesus. Confess that your sins have separated you from God. Call upon His name and ask Christ to forgive you and cleanse you from the inside out. Believe that Jesus Christ is God's only Son, whose death on the cross has borne the penalty for and has paid the price for your sins. He came from the Father, lived a sinless life, suffered a cruel death on our behalf and rose physically victorious from the grave. He stands at the Father's right hand, living and interceding for you. Invite Him into your life right now and allow Him first place. Give yourself wholeheartedly to Him. Thank Him for what He has done. And then find someone whom you can tell about the decision you have made.

He is one final thought for those art lovers out there. Rembrandt was a famous renaissance painter. He often chose to paint religious scenes because of its marketability. However, he was fascinated with the story of the prodigal son. His first painting was of the prodigal son (Rembrandt himself) as a dashing suave swashbuckler with girl friend on one knee and wine in his cup. he was having a party. The second painting was of the prodigal son returning home, This portrait may be found in St. Petersburg, Russia. I urge you to study this portrait.

For those who love to read, I recommend the book, "The Story of the Prodigal Son" by Henri Nouwen.

God bless you all.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

Blessed Christmas to you all. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, I am reminded of all the blessings God has given to us in the birth of His Son. These blessings continue to overflow into our lives.
Here are some things we are thankful for in this Christmas season.

1. The blessing of a warm place to live. Even though much of America has experienced a cold snap, we are all "nestled in our beds". There is food in the cupboard and everyone is healthy.
2. The blessing of family. As we grow older, we feel a greater need for connectedness to family. We don't know how long we will all have each other, so every minute we spend with our loved ones is precious.
3. Jobs and the hope for future employment. We're thankful for the schooling that enables us to find good jobs. Amy continues her college education and Roger finishes his Master's Degree. Now for the difficult task of finding gainful employment.
4. Shriner's Hospital - We're so thankful for this organization that reaches out to improve the lives of children with disabilities. Steven has done very well after his recent surgery. He's back to running and playing, although there still is some sensitivity in his knees.
5. Most importantly, we are grateful for the birth of Jesus Christ, who not only has revolutionized our world, but has changed our lives as well. Any accomplishments we have made in our lives and family is due to His generosity and kindness.

May the Lord enrich your lives and give Him the gift of your devotion.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shriners Hospital Surgery

Our family traveled to Shriner's Hospital in September for Steven's knee surgery. We were blessed to stay at the Ronald McDonald House during this three day adventure. He went through the procedure well, although he did have some leg pain for about two weeks. The doctors inserted a plate and screws over the growth place on one side of the knee with the intent of arresting growth and development of one side while the other side catches up. They believe this procedure will begin to correct some bowing in the legs and help to realign the lower body. After two weeks fo home-based education, Steven is now walking independently and is back to school. (Thanks to some friends, we were able to secure a pediatric wheelchair during his recovery.

Meanwhile, Samuel received his new prosthetic arm. It looks like a regular arm and hand with an external cable attached to straps. When he moves a shoulder muscle, his fingers will open and close. Right now he is a bit embarrassed to wear it in public - school or church. If he discovers a good use for the arm I'm sure he will use it regularly.

Student teaching is likewise progressing and should be completed by the end of the semester. Amy is also taking classes. But she doesn't know how much longer she will be able to stay in school because there are so few funds available right now.

I am reminded what it says in the Psalms: "The Lord's purposes for us will not fail."

Monday, August 23, 2010

Shriner's Hospital

The boys are back to school after a lengthy doctor(s) visit at Shriner's Hospital. There were several doctors going in and out of our room: genetist, genetic counselor, orthopedic doctors and their assistants, occupational therapists, and a doctor that builds prosthetic devices. The bottom line:
1. Samuel will soon be receiving a new arm - Samuel still needs to understand that a prosthetic limb is a tool. It cannot be like his other hand and arm. Can't improve on what God made. They let him play with an arm and he was able to make the hand open and close by simply moving his shoulder. He will be able to use his new arm to ride a bicycle or even play a trumpet.
2. Steven's kind of arthrogryposis was determined to be amyoplasia. This is the most common type of arthrogryposis. There is not yet a genetic test to determine this condition. The geneticist came up with this conclusion by examining Steven's condition. He feels that Steven can actually improve in some his his movements with physical therapy.
3. The orthopedic doctors and surgeon are scheduling surgery for Steven to improve his alignment. An epiphysiodesis surgery will be performed. It should alleviate some of Steven's leg pain while helping to correct bowing in his legs. Perhaps he will not fall down as often as he does.
4. The occupational therapist is very good. She really knows her stuff! She was so excited to learn that Steven actually has biceps. She believes these muscles can gain some strength.

We're not sure how we're going to work out the details for the surgery with my teaching schedule. Both of us will need to be there since both children have appointments that day. They will miss at least three days of school.

Our daughter is now a college student! She's already getting acclimated and is making new friends. I'll see her tomorrow and perhaps spend some time with her.

Friday, July 23, 2010

What would you do?

There is a TV program on ABC titled, "What would you do?" Actors simulate situations to gauge how people would respond, if people will be kind or tell someone off. Would you give gas to a person who approaches you at the gas pump and asks for some help? Would you try to stop a crime from being committed? Why would you help someone? WWJD? I hope I am one of many Americans who will not hesitate to assist someone in need.
This month has been brutally hot in the Mid Atlantic, especially at our home where the heat pump is not keeping up with cooling us down. It's about 90 inside! I think we will need a new one before long - not good news. However, there is a bit of good news. Grad school is nearly completed. Student teaching begins soon and there's a new job on the horizon.
The boys will soon be visiting Shriner's hospital to evaluate their personal and medical needs. Steven will undergo some genetic testing to determine the type of arthrogryposis. Steven will better be able to communicate his needs now that he has a greater command of the English language. Hopefully they will be able to help him with some of his mobility needs.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Limited Connectivity

Have you ever had this error message on your computer? This is a regular occurrence around our home. For some strange reason if two people try to access the Internet at the same time, the router bumps us off. We know this is happening when we see the yellow triangle with an exclamation point positioned over the Internet access icon on the bottom of the screen. Though it states we have access, that access is limited and in truth, we don’t really have the kind of connection that allows for browsing the net.

As I was pondering my dilemma, I recognized the parallel between this situation and the spiritual life. We are guaranteed access by to God by faith in Christ (Romans 5:1-2). Nothing can change this connection to the Lord. It was purchased for us by the very blood of Jesus, who died for our sins on the cross. However there are times when a problem of connecting to God occurs on our end. And what can affect that communication? First, sin hampers our relationship with God so that we fail to hear him. Our spiritual senses become dull and we choose not to walk in His ways. We don’t log on to Christ and live by His power. If there’s no spiritual power, the connection fades and the signal becomes weak. Second, we fail to personally apply our faith in the Lord’s promises. At times, I become keenly aware of my inadequacies and my short-comings. I begin to question myself and fail to trust in God’s plan for my life. Recently, I struggled with feelings of inadequacy and I became discouraged and disheartened. I couldn’t find the words to communicate my feelings to the Lord. It was as if my connection was failing. I needed to be reminded of the words of Jesus who said, “I will never leave nor forsake you.” And again the words of Paul “For he who has begun a good work in us will bring it to completion…”. For those who feel discouragement, hold on to God’s very precious promises. God’s purpose and plan for your life will not fail.

One solution to the problem of limited connectivity is rebooting the router, modem, and computer. It works in the spiritual life too. Take a morning or a day off; get away on a date with the Lord and spend time in communion with him, away from distractions to read and to pray. Stay on your retreat until you make a breakthrough and you can really find the words to communicate and to listen. Yes, listening is an important part of connecting with God. Turn off the radio, cell phone, TV, iPod, CD player, computer, and other peripheral devices; use that time on the knees with God. Our generation is addicted to noise. Take this simple test to determine if you have a noise addiction. When you start your car in the morning and prepare to leave your driveway for work do you reach for the radio and turn it on? Try driving without any noise whatsoever in the car for one week. Can you stand being alone with yourself? Now take that time normally spent listening to the radio and use it to touch the face of God. Moses communicated with God face to face as a man talks with a friend. When he spent time with the Lord, his face glowed with the radiance of standing before the Holy One. He wore a veil to cover this glory and perhaps to cover his own shame as that glow began to fade over time. Perhaps it is this shame prevents us from connecting with God so we reach for noise to fill the space. The ancients often practiced the discipline of solitude as a way to commune with the Lord. How long has it been since you spent real time with the Lord, just listening for a change? The spirit within us desires more than five minutes of time with God. It craves for spiritual food and drink which only comes through spiritual connection. Don’t settle for limited connectivity.