Friday, December 19, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

First things, first.
An update on B.
He is back from the hospital, and has not received his miracle yet. But I'm still praying for it!

Now, on to this week's lesson.

There's more than one way to skin a cat.

Speaking of B, he is the subject of this week's lesson. As I have told you before, B suffered a stroke which left him unable to use the right side of his body, and unable to communicate. Typically, he says, "For dinner! For dinner! For dinner!" or, "Yah, yah, yah!" when he needs something. Other than that, it's pretty much yes, no, or I don't know in answer to the questions we pose in our efforts to find out what he needs. And, as I have mentioned before, B is able to sing.
So this week I decided to follow up on the suggestion I have received to see if I could get B to communicate his needs by singing them. I told him my idea and offered a couple phrases he could use, then sang them and had him copy me. We did, "I need the bathroom," "I want a pillow," and "I want a cookie," to the tune of You Are My Sunshine.

And the look of delight on B's face was beautiful.

But not nearly as beautiful as the next thing.

I said to B, "Try this one. 'I love my Jesus!'" And he sang, I love my Jesus! With a smile on his face, and tears in his eyes. It had been too long since he'd been able to say those words.
It felt like a huge break through. Oh, the possibilities! If he can think of what he wants and sing it, he will be able to eliminate so much frustration. (His, and everyone else's...)
And I truly think I saw hope in his expression.
To be honest, we have much work ahead of us. I want to practice singing these phrases with B. And he needs lots of encouragement to ward off his frustration, think about what he wants, and put those wants to music. But I believe he can do it. I really do.

While singing wants, needs, and desires may seem a bit unconventional, I am over-the-top excited about the prospect of B being able to communicate them.
Yes, it would be wonderful if his ability to speak was restored. We would rejoice, to be sure.
At the moment, however, he cannot speak. But he can sing. And it looks quite promising that we'll be able to help him communicate with singing.

There's more than one way to skin a cat.
So you know - like much of the blogging world - I am taking a break for the next two weeks. Looking forward to time with family and friends, without any thoughts regarding posts.
Lord willing, I'll meet you back here in January, 2015.
Have a Merry Christmas!!!

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Music to My Ears

...and my heart.

A couple months ago our family went to a Compassion International event and decided to sponsor a child. We chose our little guy because he shares Matthew's birthday, and his name is Muthiani - which sort of resembles "Matthew". Well, at least the "M" and the "th" do. *ahem*
So, anyway, this is a family affair. And every night at dinner we pray for Muthiani. We follow a monthly prayer schedule which Compassion provided, and each night a different member of our family prays for our little Muthiani.
I think you all know how much I love praying, and praying for this little boy on the other side of the world delights my heart. But may I just tell you - even more than praying for Muthiani myself - I love, LOVE hearing my boys pray for him.
Last night's prayer prompt was for Muthinai to make wise decisions. I sat listening to my son asking God to help this boy choose well in his life, to find friends who will encourage him along good paths, to follow Jesus, and to grow in his faith. And I thought, This is just like the prayers I pray for my son!

I have had the same thought on other evenings when one of my boys has prayed for Muthiani.
And I love it.
I love hearing words from their mouths which echo prayers from my heart. And I pray that as my sons pray for Muthiani, God will mold their hearts and build in them the desire to have the very thing in their own lives which they are praying for in Muthiani's life.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Praying for a Miracle

I've written before in Lessons From the Edge posts about B -who lives with his wife, U, across the hall from the Activity Room. I have long been praying for him - for healing for his body, and restoration of his ability to communicate.
Well, yesterday afternoon B was having significant pain in his right leg. I went into his apartment to sit with him for a minute, and observed moments of agony when the pain became great. I placed my hand on his leg and B, U, and I began to pray. I recalled a story I heard from a man who experienced a miraculous healing, and remembered him saying he felt like a giant electric shock went through his body in the process. And I began to wonder if God was in the process of a miracle for B. I wondered if B was in for a healing.

And I asked God for that miracle one more time.

B ended up being taken to the hospital last night, and I don't know what his current status is. But I have been praying for the past 15 hours for his miracle. I will be going in to work soon, and hope to hear the latest on B. Please join me in praying for him.

LORD, please restore B's leg. Please let him walk again!


P.S. Interestingly, this week during Bible study we listened to a sermon B preached almost five years ago. And in that sermon he stated, "God still performs miracles."
How beautiful it would be to see one for B today!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Traditions

Today I am heading up to The Loft again.
And this week we are sharing about our Christmas traditions.

When I was a kid, to me - Christmas was all about the gifts. We would wake up Mom and Dad and they would go downstairs before us to "see if Santa came". At their cue, my brothers and sister and I raced to the family room and rejoiced at the pile of presents waiting for us. And we tore into those gifts, so excited to see what we had received. There were no thoughts of Jesus - even though the night before we had gone to church, lit the candles, and sang "Silent Night".
Jesus was never a part of Christmas morning.
It was all about the presents.

When we began having children and started thinking about our own Christmas traditions, Brian and I decided we wanted to make sure Jesus was at the center of it all. So we began our own way of "doing" Christmas.
Every Christmas morning, Brian and I and the kids gather together by the tree and the pile of gifts and we have an Advent service before opening presents. We take turns reading aloud the story of Jesus from creation to Christmas, and we light candles and sing carols along the way.
Now our kids are, well - kids, and over the years our celebration of Jesus has sometimes been chaotic, silly, interrupted, and probably even involved a "time out" somewhere along the way. For certain, it has never been "perfect". But it has kept our focus on Jesus. It has taught our children that Christmas isn't all about the gifts. Rather, it is about The Gift.

And that makes my heart happy.


Monday, December 15, 2014

Friday, December 12, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

Creativity makes simple things spectacular.

I am not a "crafty" kinda gal.
And, in some regards it feels like that admission should disqualify me from my job. Because how many "activity ladies" don't do crafts???
OK, it isn't that I won't do crafts. It's just that I am not crafty. That is, I don't can't come up with craft projects on my own. BUT, I am pretty adept at seeing cute things and imitating them. And it is that ability (taking a good idea and copying it) which has led me to this week's lesson.

Just look at the Christmas ornaments we made!

All we did was paint the ladies' fingers white then had them hold a Christmas bulb. When the paint dried they added eyes, buttons, and noses with paint, and a felt scarf with a drop of glue.
Then - Presto! - a gift for the grandkids.

And last month we made these adorable turkey-pins. Out of ribbon, googl-y eyes, and glue.

And, if that's what I can do by copying ideas with a bunch of ladies who usually tell me they aren't crafty, either, just imagine the spectacular things God can make with simple me and you!

Creativity makes simple things spectacular.

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Throwback Thursday

Brian and Matthew were cleaning the basement last weekend and came across a collage of pictures.

These are some of the gems they recovered...
My Grandpa Pete and me at my cousin's wedding ~ June, 1987

My little brother and me, backstage at Grand Ledge High School. I was Zaneeta, and David was Winthrop in The Music Man. ~November 1987

Brian, Elizabeth, and me in the hospital the day Elizabeth was born. ~April 11, 1996

Brian and Elizabeth at Cedar Campus in Cedarville, MI. We were there for "Chapter Camp" when Brian was on staff with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. He had a break and was taking a nap. I laid Elizabeth down next to him, she squirmed a bit, and then settled into the same position as Daddy. I probably should have been napping, too, but for some reason I was taking pictures. *go figure* ~May, 1996


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Four Reasons God Doesn't Love Beth More

My friend, Leah, invited me to link this post to the Loft - which is a community of Christian bloggers.
Click here to find out more!

***Please note:
I am playing with words. Of course I don't mean God doesn't love Beth Moore.

OK. Read on. *smile*

Have you ever felt like there's "another woman"?

I don't mean in your earthly relationships.

I'm talking about with God.

Have you ever felt like there's another woman whom He loves more than you?

You know, the woman who is more patient with her kids than you are with yours. The woman who has a "bigger", more "successful" ministry than you. The woman who seems to always have the godly answers and can quote Scripture like nobody's business.
Yes, that woman. She's so beautiful (inside and out), she's gracious and loving and everything you wish you were, and you just can't get over the thought that God must love her more than He loves you.
He must! How could He not?
She's just so, so...lovable!

I've envied known a woman like that before. Or two. OK, I've known several.
For simplicity's sake, let's just say there's one.
And let's call her "Beth".
I've struggled with my security when I look at Beth. Because I've been sure God loves her more than He loves me. I've been sure Beth is more worthy of God's love than I am. Because she's better than me. More patient. More polished. More sought-after. More beautiful. More compassionate. I see her as more blessed, and can only conclude that God loves Beth more than He loves me.

Have you experienced the same feeling?

If you have, then get ready for some good news. It isn't true!
Let's look together at the Bible to discover four reasons why God doesn't love Beth more than He loves us.

1. God's love for us does not depend on our performance.
Psalm 94:18 When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 John 4:10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
If it were true that what we do increases or decreases God's love for us, then it would be reasonable to believe He loves Beth more. But His Word is clear: when we slip, when we sin, when we don't even love God - still, He loves us. So, that woman who does everything better than you, the one who is more successful, the one who never messes up; God doesn't love her more than He loves you.

2. God's love is too massive to be measured.
Psalm 36:5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.
Psalm 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Ephesians 3:17-19 And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Quite simply, God's love has no limits. We cannot measure it. Can.not.
And if we cannot measure it, how can we possibly say He has more love for Beth than He does for us?
We cannot.
Because He does not.

3. God's love is not like ours.
Psalm 86:5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
Psalm 86:15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
As humans, we are prone to show partiality. It is common for us to love some people more than we love others. But God doesn't love like we do. God's Word tells us His love abounds - it isn't held back. He loves with perfect love. Not partial love.

4. It's impossible.
John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
The Bible says there is no greater love than the love of one who lay down his life for his friends.
That is just what Jesus did. He laid down His life for me. And for you. And for Beth. So each one of us is a recipient of His no-greater-love.
And if we each possess this no-greater-love, then it is impossible for God to love Beth more. Because the love He has for Beth is no greater than the love He has for you. Or for me. Or for anyone else.

If you've been struggling with comparing yourself to someone else, feeling like you have to fight your way to get in line for God's love, I pray this post is an encouragement and assurance to you today.
1 John 3:16 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us.


Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Surrogate Mommy

Seeing this post on my daughter's Facebook page yesterday absolutely blessed my heart.

I am so thankful God is providing people to care for her - when she is a couple hundred miles away from me. *sigh*


Monday, December 08, 2014

Friday, December 05, 2014

Lessons From the Edge

You can have a pleasant conversation, if you try hard enough.

I love telling stories about the folks at Edgewood who are lovable and enjoyable and who always bring a smile to my face. They're the kind of people who make "working" pure joy.
BUT, not everyone who lives there can be accurately described by those words. Some folks are kinda fussy. In fact, a few of them are a bit prickly. They're the kind of people who often take exception to statements like, "Nice day, isn't it?"
Typically, when I see these folks as we pass in the hallway I will smile at them and greet them by name. Even saying, "Good morning," or "Good afternoon," if I'm feeling really brave. But one day this week, that easy-way-out was not possible. Because I wasn't passing "prickly" in the hallway. I was walking with her. Yes, I could have walked faster and avoided her, but I was making sure she got to her apartment safely. Besides, that would have been rude. *ahem*

As we were walking, I thought of asking V what her best memory was about Christmas. But then I considered her likely answer and decided I didn't want to get her started on a negative streak.
So I searched my brain for a safer topic.
Finally, I asked if she enjoyed playing in the snow when she was a kid. She gave me a half-hearted, nothing-is-going-to-make-me-happy affirmative response, and I mumbled to myself, Strike two!
But I wasn't out yet, so I decided to keep on trying.
Rather than asking another question, I told V about the place we used to always build snow forts when I was a kid. I tried to describe how wonderful it was, and how much I enjoyed it.

And do you know what she did?

She smiled, and acknowledged that it's fun to build snow forts!

OK. I understand if you cannot appreciate how significant that positive interaction was for me. You'll just have to trust me. But that one little statement to me from V was all the proof I needed to know:
You can have a pleasant conversation, if you try hard enough.

Is there a "prickly" in your life with whom it is difficult to speak? Don't give up!

Disclaimer: The ideas and opinions expressed in this post are my own, and may not necessarily reflect those of Vista Springs Living Centers.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

I Needed That

And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

~Luke 1:33
So, I wasn't even going to post today, because that's just how yesterday was. That is - too, too busy to do "extra-curricular" stuff. And I'm feeling like today is probably going to be very similar.
And I really don't like beginning a day feeling overwhelmed by "stuff".
But that's where I was this morning.
Feeling overwhelmed.

Then I stood by my dresser and flipped the calendar over to "December 2", and there was Luke 1:33.
I read the words dutifully. Then I thought about them, and read them again with a thankful heart. ...and of his kingdom there shall be no end. That is - there shall be no end to Him making this world new, and mending what is broken, and healing what is hurting, and restoring what has been lost, and bringing peace. Yes, peace.
So, on this day which may prove to be too-full-for-my-liking, I am choosing to remember that HIS kingdom will never end. Indeed, there will come a day when I will understand that these troubles have simply been light and momentary.

Thank You, JESUS!


Monday, December 01, 2014