Are You Anticipating?

Although it has been years ago, I still remember the day when I heard I was going to be a mother. What excitement as my husband and I began planning for this addition to our family.

I read books on child care. We began shopping for a crib, a baby bed, and tried to decide if we should use cloth diapers as our mothers did or go with the modern throw away kind. We picked out a new paint color for the nursery. I enjoyed a baby shower given by friends and had such joy finding a place for all the gifts.

After a few months while I still found joy in the waiting for this child, I also began to really long for the nine months to end and the child to come. There was morning sickness that seemed to never end, back aches as my stomach got bigger and bigger. The closer I got to the expected delivery date it seemed the more active my child became. It was hard to sleep at night as no matter how I laid, she seemed to move and turn and I was miserable. Sometimes I could feel what I realized must be a foot or a hand and my excitement grew.

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The time for her delivery came – and went. Now my anticipation grew stronger. Come child, come. I am so tired, so miserable and long to be delivered from this stage. But even more, I am so anxious to meet you.

For nine months I have thought about nothing much but you. I have wondered if you would be a girl or boy. I prayed that you would be healthy and have all your toes and fingers. Often I tried to imagine what you would look like. Would you have my red hair or my husband thick, dark hair? For nine months you have been the center of my thoughts. Everything has evolved around “when the baby gets here.”

As the delivery date passed, my anticipation grew much stronger. Every morning I would wake thinking “will this be the day?” Every night I went to bed thinking “will the baby come tonight?”

Then it happened. Sitting in my living room with my husband, my water broke. What excitement as we grabbed the bag we had packed a few weeks before for my stay in the hospital. Thankful that we lived only a few blocks from the hospital, we hurried to the car and were filled with such excitement. The baby was finally coming!

At the hospital there was still a time of waiting. The doctor said “yes, the baby is almost here. Just a few more hours.”

My husband paced the floor as I prayed the baby would come soon. It was painful and I wanted the pain to end, but more than the pain, I longed to finally hold this child in my arms.

After a few hours, the baby was born! I still remember as if it was yesterday, the moment I held her in my arms. To finally see her face to face. To be able to count her toes and fingers, to look into her beautiful hazel eyes, just like her Daddy’s. To whisper to her how much I loved her and how I had longed for her arrival.

It’s Christmas time. We are excited about the day. Seeing family members, opening presents, enjoying a great feast.

But I wonder, do we really understand what this time of Advent should be about? How much do we anticipate the return of our Lord? Do we even think about it?

Does the thought of His return fill us with excitement? Do we count the years since His promise and wonder “When will you return?” Do we think about what it will mean to see HIm face to face? Does that thought fill us with wonder?

There is such chaos in our world today. Covid has created health issues, and divided people on what our response should be. Politics have beoome so ugly, so divisive. Many are suffering financially. Fires in California, tornadoes in Kentucky. Almost weekly we hear of a shooting in a mall, in a factory and now even in our churches and schools. We are like a woman in the last months of pregnancy, hoping for deliverance soon.

But where do we turn for deliverance? Some are thinking if we can just get Donald Trump back in the White House all will be well. Others think if we can just get rid of Donald Trump and keep Biden in the White House all will be well. Some are hoping Congress will pass some legislature that will solve it all. Just the right action by them and suddenly the Covid crisis will pass, the economy will get better, the violence will be controlled.

As for me, while I have no idea when that day will come just as I did not know the exact day my child would be born, I live in anticipation.

“And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”

Just as I did not sit around doing nothing when I was told I was pregnant, so must we not just sit around and wait for the day of His return. I was busy preparing. How do we prepare for the Lord’s return? He told us in HIs parables. We work to help others, to make our world as much like His kingdom as we can. To be His hands, his eyes, his arms to those in need until He returns and makes all things right.

This season, I encourage you to seek to do all you can to reach out in His love to the hurting world as you wait for His return.

And in all the dinners, parties, family gatherings, please take time to remember what this season should really mean to us. And in all the chaos, frustrations of daily life right now, remember our Lord will return. While we wait, work to be His hands and feet to help those in need.

There’s a light upon the mountains,
  and the day is at the spring,
When our eyes shall see the beauty
  and the glory of the King;
Weary was our heart with waiting, and
  the night-watch seemed so long,
But His triumph-day is breaking, and
  we hail it with a song.

In the fading of the starlight we can
  see the coming morn;
And the lights of men are paling in
  the splendors of the dawn;
For the eastern skies are glowing as
  with lights of hidden fire,
And the hearts of men are stirring
  with the throb of deep desire.

There’s a hush of expectation, and
  a quiet in the air;
And the breath of God is moving in
  the fervent breath of prayer;
For the suffering, dying Jesus is the
  Christ upon the throne,
And the travail of our spirit is the
  travail of His own.

He is breaking down the barriers,
  He is casting up the way;
He is calling for His angels to build
  up the gates of day;
But His angels here are human, not
  the shining hosts above,
For the drum-beats of His army are
  the heart-beats of our love.

(Henry Burton – 1578-1648)

A Little Church Humor

This was recently shared by a pastor and so funny I wanted to share with my readers.

Father: What does the Bible say about how you treat your father and mother?

Child: Honor thy father and mother.

Father: Good. What does the Bible say about how you treat your siblings?

Child: Thou shall not kill.

Let’s Pass It On!!!

This time of year my mind goes back to Thanksgivings of the past. One thing I always loved about our Thanksgiving gatherings was it gave me a chance to enjoy my mother’s pies. She was an excellent pie maker. As I remember my mother, I think of all she taught me.  And we owe our mothers for teaching us so much.  A few things my mother taught me – and I bet your mother taught you were:

  • To appreciate a job well done – “If you’re going to kill each other, do it outside. I just finished cleaning.”
  • Religion – “You better pray that will come out of the carpet.”
  • Logic – “Because I said so, that’s why.”
  • Perservance – “You’ll sit there until all that spinach is gone.”
  • Weather – “This room of yours looks as if a tornado went through it.”
  • Hypocrisy – “If I told you once, I’ve told you a million times. Don’t exaggerate!”
  • Behavior modification – “Stop acting like your father!”
  • Envy – “There are millions of less fortunate children in this world who don’t have wonderful parents like you do.”

Thank God for the advice of mothers?  Many words of wisdom my mother told me, I passed on to my kids – and now I hear them passing on to my grandkids.  Some of that great advice:

  • Money does not grow on trees.
  • Don’t make that face or it’ll freeze in that position.
  • If I talked to my mother like you talk to me….
  • Always change your underwear; you never know when you’ll have an accident.
  • What if everyone jumped off a cliff? Would you do it, too?
  • Close that door! Were you born in a barn?
  • If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
  • Don’t put that in your mouth; you don’t know where it’s been!
  • Be careful what you wish for, it might come true.
  • I hope that when you grow up, you have kids “Just Like you”! (Also known as the “Mother’s Curse”)
  • Eat your vegetables, children in China (or Africa) are starving.
  • If you fall out of that tree and break your leg, don’t come running to me.
  • Bored! How can you be bored? I was never bored at your age.

We have received and passed on advice just like this.  We heard our mothers say it, we said it and many of us now hear our children saying it to their children.  While we laugh at these words of wisdom, there are words of wisdom we need to be passing on.

In the 16th chapter of Acts we meet a young man who was part of the first “second generation” of Christians.  Paul met Timothy on his second missionary journey and he joined Paul in his missionary work.  Later, when Paul was in prison, Timothy had been left behind in Ephesus as a pastor/leader in the church.  From prison, Paul wrote a letter to Timothy.  This is believed to have been the last letter Paul wrote and he shared with Timothy words of wisdom, reflection and advice. 

In that second letter to Timothy in chapter 1, verse 5, Paul wrote, “I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.”  Later in chapter 2, verse 15 he said, “You have been taught the Holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.”

Timothy – a young man who carried on the work that Paul had begun in Ephesus – was able to do that, not only because of the influence of Paul in his life and the experiences he had shared with Paul.  No – his preparation for the ministry began long before Paul came into his life.  He had genuine faith (sincere, honest, real faith) that had first filled his grandmother and then his mother.  These two women had done a good job of passing on the torch. 

Today as mothers, grandmothers, aunts, friends of children, we have the same responsibility to pass on the torch of faith.  It has been said that God has no grandchildren.  Over and over the Word of God refers to God as our father, but nowhere is God ever called our grandfather.  We are always one generation away from losing the Christian faith.  Today, as never before, our country needs Christian leaders, fathers, and mothers.  We must, we have to pass on the faith.  It is the only hope for our children, our grandchildren, and our nation. 

We need to see that this life is a relay race. Those who want to win the race must be good at handing off to the next generation the essentials they need to live a life of faith. 

But how do we go about passing this kind of faith on to our families – whether it be our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews, the children in our church, our community.  But how do we pass on this faith? 

Again, we must turn to the Bible. Let’s look at the words of Deuteronomy 6 which are a biblical cornerstone for the family. These eternal words talk about the daily discipline of faith building in the home.

“Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

 Attention, Israel! God, our God! God the one and only!  Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love him with all that’s in you, love him with all you’ve got! Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.”

 Memorize his laws and tell them to your children over and over again. Talk about them all the time, whether you’re at home or walking along the road or going to bed at night, or getting up in the morning. Write down copies and tie them to your wrists and foreheads to help you obey them. Write these laws on the door frames of your homes and on your town gates.”

“And you must think constantly about these commandments I am giving you today. You must teach them to your children and talk about them when you are at home or out for a walk; at bedtime and the first thing in the morning” (vv. 6-7 TLB).

The commandments — those excellent, unmatched principles of love, honor, obedience, integrity, kindness, and faithfulness that are true for all people, in all cultures, at all times.

Often when we think of passing on the faith, we get all caught up in passing on rules/regulations to our children.  While it is true that Jesus Himself said if we love Him, we would keep His commandments, it is not rules/regulations we need to pass on.  Many of us have tried that, but a bunch of rules/regulations often lead to rebellion. 

When we look at Acts 16 where Paul first met Timothy and called him to join his mission team, we see that Timothy had never been circumcised.  Circumcision was one of the main rules of Jewish life.  All Jewish boys were to be circumcised on the eighth day of life.  While Timothy’s mother and grandmother were Jewish, his father was a Greek, so it appears that many of the Jewish rules were not observed by Timothy’s father or Timothy.  Yet Paul spoke of the genuine faith Timothy had – genuine faith that had resided in his grandmother and mother.  Clearly, what they had passed on was not a list of do’s and don’ts, but a devotion, a confidence, a trust in God. 

I want to ask you today, “are you passing on that devotion, that confidence, that trust in God?  Perhaps today you are not a mother.  But you may be an aunt, or a beloved cousin or friend to a young person.  We have an obligation to pass on the faith not only to our children and grandchildren, but to those young people we come into contact with in our church, our community.  There are single parents out there trying to be both Mom and Dad who could use someone to come alongside them and spent some time mentoring and caring for their children. There are grandparents raising grandchildren who could use a break, a word of encouragement and again the children could use attention and love from others besides their tired and overwhelmed grandparents. There are organizations like YouthHope and Little Brothers and Little Sisters that could use someone to spend time with children who live many times in homes where chaos and strife are the rule not the exception.

So when I speak of children – I am speaking to everyone here today whether you are a mother/grandmother or not, whether your children are already grown or still at home.

What does it mean to teach these divine principles to your children? It is very important that we understand the meaning of the word teach in this key parenting passage of the Bible. The Old Testament Hebrews had two definitions for teach. The first was the idea of a formal lecture, as in a professor giving a lecture in a classroom on parenting, child rearing, or the family system. Our idea of teaching in the Western World is very similar to this concept of a formal, organized presentation.

However, this is not the meaning of the word teach in this passage. The other meaning had to do with casual, everyday conversation of life, and that is the meaning the writer used here. The other meaning had to do with the casual, everyday conversation of life, and that is the meaning the writer used here. He wanted to get across the idea that character training flows more out of a parent’s day-to-day encounters with his or her children than it does from formal teaching. Whether you talk about baseball or ballet, music or math, the color of the sky at dusk or the dew on the grass in the morning, every conversation can provide an opportunity to teach your children about the things of God.

The basic meaning behind the term teach is that passing the faith never stops. You are always — always — teaching the children around you something. There are no downtimes, time-outs, or do-overs. Everything you do, every moment of the day, teaches children something about life, whether you are in their presence or not. The time you spend away from them at your job, at social functions, on dates with your spouse, shopping, or at church activities speaks to them about the importance of each of those activities. You pass the baton of faith moment by moment, in a thousand seemingly insignificant words, phrases, activities, and conversations. In other words, just as in a relay race, the baton is not taught, it is caught “when you are at home or out for a walk; at bedtime and the first thing in the morning.”

Christianity is not just a weekend sport. It is a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday lifestyle. Those teachable moments with the children can happen while they are playing games, while they are at the soccer field, shopping at the mall, playing at the piano recital, fishing, or camping. And when children give you those windows of opportunity, take them and teach them words of faith.

When I think about what it means to pass on the baton of faith through teachable moments, my mind rushes back to when my granddaughter, Barbara, was 4.  Her diet consisted primarily of bread – any kind of bread – toast, homemade rolls, just bread and she loved potatoes.  But trying to get her to eat any fruit or vegetable resulted in an almost daily power struggle. Well, one night her parents were determined she was going to eat a tomato. They placed four little bites on her plate, but she immediately began to cry that she didn’t want it. So they said firmly, “Barbara, you are going to sit here until you eat the tomato.” Finally, she stabbed a piece of tomato and slowly lifted the fork to her mouth. Well, if you have ever had a four-year-old, you know what’s coming. Just as it touched her tongue, she gagged dramatically.

Sometimes we have tried to do the same thing with children when it comes to matters of faith. We try to force religion down their throats. This is not how we are to teach the things of God. Rather, teaching happens as we live our lives.  We don’t force it.  We don’t say, “We are going to sit here until you take it.” We live out genuine Christianity in front of them.


If you are raising children right now:

  1. When they come home with a problem at school – maybe someone bullying them, or difficulties learning a subject, share with them how God can help them.  Tell them about times He has helped you in the past.  Pray with them.
  2. Buy toys/movies/books that share the story of God’s love and faithfulness.  The Bible book stores are full of such resources.
  3. Watch TV/movies with them.  While you certainly do not want to have them watch shows that are X-rated or full of sinful actions, in our world today there will be many shows/movies that do not have nudity, violence etc. but may have what we would call “gray” areas.  When their shows come on, you can use them to discuss how that particular scene/action did not line up with God’s Word.  For instance, you may see a family comedy where one member of the family puts another one down to get a laugh.  You can later discuss how getting a laugh at someone else’s expense, is not showing love to one another and is not how a child of God should behave.
  4. Pray with your children – not just at mealtime or bedtime – but any time a need arises.  Also, when God blesses you, share that with your children and have a time of praise.
  5. Talk about the flowers, the sunrise, the birds singing – all the wonderful things God has given us and talk about the wonder of God’s creation.

If you are a grandmother, an aunt, a friend.

  1. Choose the presents you buy – make sure they have books/toys/movies that point to God.
  2. Share with them (they love hearing stories from grandmothers of the past) how God brought you through a difficult time, how He answered a prayer.
  3. Tell them about your favorite Bible verse or Bible character or Bible and why it is your favorite.

If you have children in your church.

  1. Learn their names and greet them by their name. 
  2. Stoop down to their level and talk to them.

There are hundreds of ways to let children know they are loved and are important.  And to share with them that God loves them to.  Just put on your thinking cap and get creative.

In order to pass on the faith to the next generation, we must possess that faith our self.  We cannot pass on what we do not have.  We need to make sure we have a serious and committed relationship our self to God and that we are living lives consistent with His truth.

I Wonder Where Rosalie Is Today?

She was such a cute little girl.  A little afraid, but very curious, of the Americans who had moved into her neighborhood.

She began by peeping around the corner of the wall of our compound, trying to sneak a look at us while remaining hidden herself.

 

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Slowly she came out of hiding and let us see her pretty face.

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For several days she played this peek-a-boo game with us until finally she came with a friend and sat down outside our gate.

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My husband, our youngest daughter and I had moved into her neighborhood where we lived as we taught in a local Bible school and also in local churches throughout Iloilo City on the island of Panay in the Philippines.

Having white Americans as neighbors was quite a novelty.  Children in the neighborhood came to the gate every day to get a look at us.  We began talking to them and before long we developed friendships with all the children on our street.

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At first when we walked down our street, the little boys would call out to my husband, “Hello GI Joe.”   After repeating each day that his name was Paul, they finally called him by his name – but it came out with two syllables – Pa -ul.

Our daughter started a Kids Klub for the neighborhood children.  Saturday mornings our living room would turn into a classroom.  Jessica taught them songs, Bible stories and always had games and snacks for them.  They called her “Tita” or aunt and followed her each time she left our home.

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Rosalie was the youngest of five siblings.  Their mother was a widow and made her living by selling food in a makeshift hut on the side of the road.

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While we fell in love with all the children, we took a special interest in this family.

When it was time for us to return home, Rosalie’s mother wanted us to take Rosalie with us.  She envisioned a much better life for her youngest if she came to the United States with us.

We struggled with what would be the right decision.  It sounded good to provide this little girl with all the luxuries she would never have in Iloilo City.  Things like clean water, plenty of food, shoes and the many things we take for granted but would not be available to her in the Philippines.

But what would it do to her emotionally to be ripped from her home, her siblings and especially her mother?

Was it arrogance on our part to think that all the material things we could give her was worth more than family?

Yet how could we say no to giving her a life that would be much easier than the life she would have here in Iloilo City?

In the end, the legal requirements and the cost of adopting her and all the red tape involved proved more than we could do.

The day we left our neighborhood was very traumatic.  The children gathered early at our home and hung on to the jeepney as we drove slowly away.  They cried out, “Don’t go, don’t go.”

As I reflect back on that time, I do believe it would have been wrong to take her from her family – but I still wonder.

Did we do the right thing?

I wonder where she is today?

With today’s technological advances of Facebook and the internet we might have been able to maintain some contact.  But that was not possible then.

Still, I think of her and wonder if she remembers us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Cycle of Life

My parents died in the same year – Mom in April and Dad in August.  I remember my sisters and I looking at each other and saying “We are now the older generation.”

Until that time we could think of ourselves as young – it was our parents’ and their siblings who were old.

But now that generation is gone and we are the old ones.

Even then, still in our 50’s and 60’s, we did not really feel old.

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But time has passed and we are slowing down.  We look at each other and see the wrinkles, the grey hair, the slower gait and realize we have come to the last chapter in the book.

With that in mind, recently I have seen so many posts on Facebook of the next generation – my daughter, my nieces – becoming grandparents and it has made my heart so happy.

Watching them and their excitement at having grandchildren brings back the memories of that time in my life.  I relive those wonderful days of children and grandchildren.  Now I rejoice in great grandchildren.

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I love this picture of my youngest grandchild.  She is 8 now but this is still a favorite memory!

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When this little grandson was born, doctors were not sure he would live and said if he did he would be a weak little guy.   Today he is 6 foot 6 inches tall and anything but weak or little.  God is good!

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Love this picture of our youngest son with two of his children welcoming their baby sister.  All three are grown up now but still a joy to me.

Seeing their joy, seeing the next generation take the stage – it brings me such satisfaction to know our family will continue on.

Shakespeare said it well:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,

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Each stage of life has had its blessings and its difficulties.

Those carefree days of childhood with little or no responsibilities.  Still, there was the pressure to do well in school, trying to “fit in” with the other kids.  Hoping to make friends.

Young adulthood brought the joy of first love and marriage and babies.  What excitement those first years of marriage brought.  Yet, there were sleepless nights with babies who would not stop crying, worries about meeting the bills.  For me that time also brought sorrow as my husband was killed in an accident and I struggled as a single mom with two young girls.

Middle age came.  Finally, jobs were more stable and money problems were less.  The kids were at a age to really enjoy adventures with me and many evenings were spent playing board games, shopping or just “hanging out” together.  For me there was new joy as I found love again with a wonderful man who loved my girls.  However, I began to realize my body was aging.  I could still do what I did in my 20’s but it took me longer and I was many times exhausted by the end of the day.

Now old age has come.  This body refuses to do what it once did.  Not only does it take me longer to walk the mall, I simply cannot shop as long as I once did.  My husband and I love road trips but even those have to be shorter and I am exhausted for days recovering from the trip.  Still, there are joys in this stage.

I can get up before dawn, sit with a cup of coffee and watch the sun raise.  Or, I can turn over in bed, pull the covers over and sleep until long after the sun has risen.  Lunch and dinner can be a gourmet meal with our best china sitting at our dining room table sharing a great conversation with my husband.  Or, we can eat pizza on paper plates while sitting in our recliner and watching a movie.  There is a great deal of freedom to just do whatever I want to do.

Realizing that my days are much fewer than when I started this journey called life, I am more appreciative of each one.  Thankful for the sunshine, for the rain.  Thankful for the silly jokes my husband tells, for the scrabble games we play.  Thankful for the phone calls from grandchildren checking on me.  Thankful for the hot shower.

A study by Laura Carstensen, a psychologist at Stanford found that as people age they got happier and their emotions bounced around less.  Our drama-filled days seen to lessen as our negative emotions such as sadness, anger and fear become less pronounced.

Psychologist Karl Pillemer interviewed over 1,000 older people for his book,  30 Lessons for Living: Tried and True Advice from the Wisest Americans.  He found that:

“Many people said something along these lines: ‘I wish I’d learned to enjoy life on a daily basis and enjoy the moment when I was in my 30’s instead of my 60’s,’” he says. Elderly interviewees are likely to “describe the last five or ten years as the happiest years of their lives.”

So my advice to those in the earlier cycles of life:

Enjoy each moment.  Do not let the difficult times stop you from enjoying all the good times.  This day, this moment in time will not come again.  Look for all the good in your life and savor that experience.

As for me knowing I am playing out the last chapter of my story, I take comfort in God’s Word.

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

May my last chapter be my best!

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Read more: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/what-is-so-good-about-growing-old-130839848/#xr2BBzFeUxqfgrfg.99

Prayers for Our Children Returning to School

It’s that time again!  Off our children and grandchildren go to school.

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School used to be a pretty safe place to be.  In my generation many of us walked to school and back and no one worried about us being harmed in our walk.  School was one of the safest places children could be.

Sadly, that is not true today.  Not only do we have shootings in school but there we now worry about bullies and even about some of the teaching our older kids may receive.

Truly, school time is a time for us to pray for our children.

Along with prayers for safety, may I suggest the following:

  1. I pray you will be near them when I can’t be.
  2. I pray if they don’t feel your presence, they will seek you and discover you’re right there with them.
  3. I pray you will surround them with peace and comfort in every new situation.
  4. I pray when they are pressured, you will help them stand.
  5. I pray they find one good friend, a brother or sister in Christ because it’s hard to stand alone.
  6. I pray when they fail, they will forgive themselves and try again.
  7. I pray my kids will befriend those that are new, lonely or both.
  8. I pray they will be a blessing to their teacher and not a curse.
  9. I pray you will bless them with Godly teachers.
  10. I pray they will let their light shine, quietly or loudly, but in their own way.
  11. I pray above all, God, that you would use their challenges, disappointments and victories to draw them closer to you this school year.

And while you are praying for the children, don’t forget the teachers.

 

 

 

 

Do You Remember Polio?

When I was in second grade the vaccine for poliomyelitis was declared effective and safe, and a nationwide inoculation campaign began.  Children were the first to get the vaccine because the disease was known as “infant paralysis” mainly affecting children.

This disease attacks the nerve cells and sometimes the central nervous system, often causing muscle wasting and paralysis and even death. Since 1900 there had been cycles of epidemics, each seeming to get stronger and more disastrous.  It seemed to attack more during summer and I remember the panic as a child when several cases appeared in my home town.  Most people recovered quickly from polio but some suffered temporary or even permanent paralysis or death.

One of our neighbors had a little boy who had contacted polio.  He was five years old and could not walk.  His parents could not afford expensive leg braces so the little guy crawled everywhere he went.  He had a sister my age and I remember playing with his sister outside as he would try to keep up with us crawling behind.  He would wear out the knees in his pants from crawling all over outside.

When my school announced that the children would be given the vaccine my parents and many others were not sure if this was safe.  They were told that we would be injected with the polio vaccine.  The idea was that they would take the polio virus, kill several strains of it and then inject the benign viruses into the bloodstream.  The person’s immune system would create antibiodies to the virus and he/she would be able to resist future exposure to poliomyelitis.

My parents were afraid of the very idea of me being injected with the polio virus, even a benign form.  The very idea of polio was frightening.

Besides our neighbor’s son who was crippled from polio, we also had a friend whose body was twisted from the polio and she walked with braces on her legs and using crutches.

We heard of people who had to be placed in an iron lung when their chest muscles would not work enough to help them breath.

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After many long discussions they agreed to let me have the vaccine.  On the day we were to be vaccinated a bus came to our school.  We were taken down town to the civic center where there were doctors and nurses all lined up at tables and we walked through one at a time to get our shot.

I was terrified!

Just the thought of a shot was scary, but even more the realization that they were injecting the polio virus into my body.  My parents explained to me that it was not a “live” virus and it would not give me polio.  Still, I was scared.  This was all a new thing.

What if they were wrong?

What if I could not walk like our little neighbor boy?

What if I ended up wearing leg braces and using crutches like our friend?

The vaccine at that time consisted of three shots given a few weeks apart.  So, we were all scheduled to go back down town in a couple of weeks for the second shot.

However, the night after I was given the vaccine I began running a fever.  I complained to my mother that my legs were hurting me and I had to lay down.  Panic-stricken my mother called our family doctor.  He believed that I was somehow allergic to the shot and told my parents I should not get the other two vaccines.  He wrote a note telling the school I was not to participate in future vaccinations.

My parents and I worried over the next few years when we would hear of someone getting polio praying I would not come in contact with anyone who might pass the virus on to me.

Thankfully, that fear of polio was soon gone.

Following the vaccination of school children, there was a rapid decrease in cases of polio.

In 1955 there were 28,985

In 1956, 14,647

In 1957, 5,894

Because of widespread polio vaccination in this country, polio has been eliminated.

There is always danger of someone from another country bringing the polio vaccine with them when they travel to the USA.  But if we keep our program of polio vaccination current, we can rest assured there will be no epidemics again.  No children left crippled.

What is even more encouraging is that we have shared this vaccine with the world and today few countries have any current cases of polio.

polio map 1988

I rejoice in that knowledge because many of these poorer countries do not have access to good medical care that patients of polio would need.

When I remember the fear we had of polio and all those who were crippled because of it – people I knew – the fear the very word “polio” brought to us –

and now I see that to my children and grandchildren it is only a word – something they read about –

I’m thankful to God for the knowledge He has given us to win the battle over this dreadful disease.

I pray it always remains just a word to future generations.

What makes a man a Grandpa?

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My daughters “Shadow” and “Giggles” with their beloved Grandpa

I remember his big hands.  They were very large, yet always gentle.

I remember the love and care he gave my daughters after their father was killed in an accident.

I remember the nick names he gave to both of them.  My oldest daughter was “Giggles” and my youngest was “Shadow.”

I remember how he understood my deep grief and sorrow after my husband’s death in a way no one else in the family did because he had also lost his first wife in death.

I remember how he just stood by my side in silence with his big hand on my shoulder in the days following my husband’s death while others in the family would be sharing their opinion on why God had allowed Lonnie to be taken from me and my little daughters.   Or, how he would give me a hug at family gatherings when my heart ached for the empty spot at the table where my husband would have sat and no one else in the family even mentioned his name.  It seemed at times as if they had never seen him as a part of our family.  But I knew that Grandpa Gerling missed him along with me and my girls.  He never had to say a word.  His hand on my shoulder, his hug, his whisper to me “It will get better in time” said it all.

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My mother and step-father — Grandpa Gerling

He was not biologically a grandfather to my girls but if love counts for anything, he was their grandfather.  My husband’s family seemed too lost in their own grief after his death to offer any love or comfort to my daughters.  My own father had deserted me and my mother when I was 13 and although he came back into my life later he was always very negative when we were around him and critical of me.  My hair was too short.  My slacks were too tight.  So the only love they were shown by a grandfather was my step-dad, Grandpa Gerling.

He has been gone now for many years, but I still miss him.  I often think how much he would have enjoyed seeing my daughters’ children, how much he would have showered them with love.

This time of year I always think of him.  In the fall he would always fix us his goulash.  My girls and I now make that dish – and remember his kindness and love to us.

He was not their “real’ grandfather.  They shared no DNA.  But he was the only “real” grandfather they knew.  Because what makes a man a grandfather is more than sharing his DNA, it is sharing his love.

So as fall comes and I think about the trips at this time of year to Mom and Cliff’s house for goulash, I thank God for giving my daughters a “real” grandpa.

 

 

Say Yes or Say No

Say yes

A few years ago my husband and I took our youngest granddaughter for a walk by the Mississippi River.  She loved watching the boats go by and feeding the ducks.  As we finished our walk and headed to the car, she realized that we were very close to the John Deere Pavilion.  She loves going there to see all the big tractors and combines and to play “farmer.”  So, holding on to my hand she looked up at me and asked, “Can we go see the tractors?”

Not being sure of what my husband’s plans were for the afternoon, I told her she would have to ask Poppa.  She quickly let go of my hand and hurried her steps to walk beside him.  “Poppa, can we go see the tractors?”

Not expecting that request (he was surprised that she recognized we were close to the John Deere Pavilion since she was only three years old and had never gone there from the river road), he hesitated only a few seconds before he was ready to answer.  But it was not fast enough for her.  Looking at him impatiently, she said

Say yes or say no!

After we stopped laughing, her Poppa said, “Of course, we can go see the tractors.”  I mean, whatever granddaughter wants, Poppa does.

Thinking on that today as I listened to the news (if you can call what is on the news channels as news), I thought how great it would be if our government officials would actually follow that rule.  If our news media would just say the facts as they are.  And maybe if we would be more honest with one another.

As Jesus said

All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

 

 

 

 

Between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday – Sad, Somber Saturday!

lock

First, the cross

We talk a lot about the cross and how terrible the death of Jesus was.  The story of Peter’s denial of Jesus and the rest of the disciples fleeing from the garden where he was arrested are familiar to us.  It is good that we take time to reflect on the agony, the pain, the shame that Jesus suffered for us on that Friday.

The Resurrection

Then we jump to Sunday morning and the wonderful fact of the resurrection!  The surprise, the doubt, the joy as they realized that Jesus was alive.  Again, it is good that we celebrate this tremendous event, this foundation stone of our faith.

But, what was that Saturday like?

Have you ever wondered what that Saturday was like for the followers of Jesus as they hid behind locked doors?  After the shock, the horror of his death, can you imagine the range of emotions they felt on Saturday?  Sad, somber Saturday!

Of course, there was the sorrow they experienced at the loss of their friend.  I cannot really begin to understand the pain his mother must have felt as she reflected on the suffering he had experienced.  Perhaps she could not even sleep, or fell asleep only to wake up from a nightmare seeing him once again being viciously beaten.

There must have been great confusion.  Questions as they remembered all the miracles he performed, all the parables he had told.  Wondering how he could have come to this end.  Had he not made tremendous promises?  Had he not proclaimed that he was the only way to God?  Had he not even raised a dead man after four days in the tomb?

There must have been great disappointment.  What were they to do now?  They had left their homes, their employment to follow him.  They had been so excited about the kingdom he would set up, even arguing over who would sit on his left and his right hand in that kingdom.

There must have been great fear.  Would the Romans come after them now?  How could they get out of Jerusalem and back to their villages and their old life safely?

Had they really heard Him?

We have the advantage of looking back on history, on knowing how the story turned out.  So it is easy for us to say, “Did they not really hear him?”  After all he had told them that he would be killed and would rise again on the third day.  Did any of them think about that and wonder if it could be true?

We have our Saturdays too

But before we berate them for not really hearing Jesus, not really understanding, not really believing what he said about his death and coming back to life, are we any different today?

When our Fridays of suffering and difficulty come and we face a sad, somber Saturday dealing with the problems we face, do we forget his promises?  He said he would never leave us.  He said we would have tribulation in this world, but to be of good cheer because in him we could overcome.  He said he gave us his peace, not the peace of the world, but that peace that comes from knowing who is in control.

Today, before I rejoice at the resurrection, I ask God to help me in my times of sorrow, confusion, disappointment and fear.  I ask him to remind me that Fridays come and we have sad, somber Saturdays dealing with the problems of Friday, but for the child of God, Sunday is always on the way!