Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Secret Sauce to Awesomeness

If I had $100 for every time I have heard, "I would give anything to have a Dad like yours!", I could drill many wells around the world. He IS magnificent. 93 years old, still serving, still making people laugh, trust, grow, and feel valued. I DO wish everyone had a Dad like him.  Although we can't go backwards and rewrite history, we ALL can give our children that kind of parent. David records exactly what to do and the promises that follow. That's what Dad did and does. Check it out.

Psalm 112 Living Bible

  Praise the Lord! For all who fear God and trust in him are blessed beyond expression. Yes, happy is the man who delights in doing his commands.
His children shall be honored everywhere, for good men’s sons have a special heritage. He himself shall be wealthy, and his good deeds will never be forgotten. When darkness overtakes him, light will come bursting in. He is kind and merciful— and all goes well for the generous man who conducts his business fairly.
Such a man will not be overthrown by evil circumstances. God’s constant care of him will make a deep impression on all who see it. He does not fear bad news, nor live in dread of what may happen. For he is settled in his mind that Jehovah will take care of him. That is why he is not afraid but can calmly face his foes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When You Choose The Action...

I know many people who are angry at God, angry at people...just angry. Anger held long enough becomes bitterness, and bitterness changes who you are. Bitterness will not just affect YOU. It will affect every single person who comes into your life. The cost is so high for this kind of rage and anger. And what makes the cost so unbelievable is that most of the time, the anger is completely misdirected.

Here's the thing. When you choose the action, you choose the consequence. Consequences are inextricably bound to behaviors. We don't want that to be so, for ourselves or for the people we love. But God created humans with the exhilarating ability to consider and choose, and, barring a miracle, he doesn't intervene and circumvent the choices we make. It was true for Adam and Eve, and true for all of us, their children. God has never had a hidden agenda, never tried to trick us, bait and switch. He has told us the plain truth over and over again. He has written the laws into the universe. Whatever you sow, you reap. But we insist on sowing sin and foolishness and instant gratification--and then blame God and whoever else is in our range of fire if the crop doesn't fail.

I frequently am privy to rants of people who have sown neglect and immorality in front of their children, and then are angry when their children run off the tracks.

Or people whose loved one dies of an overdose or alcohol poisoning after they themselves have pleaded to deaf ears, "Don't do this!You are killing yourself!" But the moment death occurs, it's God's failure.

Some treat loved ones like disposable property, and then beg God to keep those loved ones from leaving. Others behave foolishly at work and lose the job, or try to live like a prince on money they don't have, and then...well, you know the drill.

On the other hand, we told our children, "If you drive like a maniac or under the influence and are killed, we will never say, 'God took our child'. If we are angry at anyone, it won't be God--it will be you. And we will always love you, but our grief will be that you were so foolish and strong-willed that you did this to yourself." 

Come on. You know it is true. Choices and consequences can't be separated. God loves us so much he gives us the ability and freedom to make choices. Wouldn't it be liberating if, when the consequences connected to our choices come thundering into our lives, we would have the integrity to point the finger at the one who made the choice, and then go to the One Who knows us best and loves us most for comfort, strength, and hope?

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Harper's Super Bowl

I am "guest blogging" today. My friend Aaron Cunningham and his wife Tonya were featured in a blog I wrote a few months ago when their beautiful daughter, Harper, was born with heart defects and Down's syndrome. Since that time, she has valiantly endured cataract surgeries, and this stint in the hospital, with another coming up to repair her heart. Her parents are amazing, and she is a warrior princess.  Her Daddy Aaron just wrote this. Read and share widely.

Harper has had a few breathing trials since she has been in the hospital, which have not gone very well at all. Basically they turn off the intubation machine so that she is forced to take breaths on her own. They start by giving her a little higher oxygen concentration than what is normally in the air and give a little extra pressure to help push it into her lungs and if she is doing alright, they start to turn down the concentration and the pressure until they reach the same levels as in the normal atmosphere.
As Tonya and I stood at the foot of Harper’s bed at 10:30 tonight for the second attempt of the day (the first only lasting 5 minutes before her stats dropped), I was hoping she would do well, but I can honestly say I wasn’t holding my breath. As the clock started and she began to breathe on her own, we watched as her stats fluctuated and I found myself wondering if she would even really get fully started. I closed my eyes and began to pray that God would comfort her and give her the strength to do at least a little better this time. When I finished praying, which may have been 2 minutes, I was worried to even look up at the screen. Worried maybe that my prayers weren’t strong enough? Or maybe that this was just too tall of an order to be asking right now because of her condition? Writing this now, I feel ashamed that I would have even had any doubts that my prayers couldn’t or wouldn’t be answered.
When I looked at the screens, Harper was doing exactly what she needed to. Her breaths weren’t too fast or too slow. Her oxygen levels stayed in the necessary range. Her heart rate was also within range. She was breathing on her own with very little assistance. We stood and watched as the minutes went by and the respiratory specialist decreased the amount of assistance. Each time, I watched her stats to see if she would be able to handle the increased amount of work for her. I would silently cheer for her and encourage her. It felt like I was watching the most important Super Bowl of all time. If she began to fall down, my eyes would close and I would pray for more strength for her. But when I opened my eyes, I knew that she would be doing better. It felt like my team had just made a huge play on the final drive of the game.
After about 20 minutes (which was her new record), she was breathing normal air at normal pressure completely on her own. I was cheering so hard for her inside, but she was still only halfway down the field. When the machine would beep warning that some stat was almost out of range, I would close my eyes again. There was no doubt in my mind that she was going to get to their 45-minute goal for her. Some of her stats were even improving. Her heart rate slowly came down, her oxygen levels would get well above her necessary range. The 40-yard line. I was going wild for her. The 30. There was no way she was going to stop now. The 20. She needed another prayer and kept going. The 10. My heart was aching to see her reach her goal. It was the only thing that mattered to me in that instant. Touchdown! She made it! We made it! We won the most important game of all time! It’s the only way I can describe the amount of joy and excitement and pride I had for her when she met that goal. It was perfect! As the respiratory specialist turned the breathing machine back on, I watched as Harper relaxed and let the machine take back over for her. She felt like she had just ran a marathon. She completely stopped breathing on her own again. It was as if nothing had changed for her from 45 minutes before that.
And as I looked at her I realized we hadn’t just won the most important Super Bowl of all time. Not even close. We had just made the very first completion of the game. We were still so far from the end of the game. Now, some people might think that would make me sad to think about, but the exact opposite is true. If that was just a small example of the amount of joy and excitement and pride that Harper will bring us as she reaches goals and milestones in her life, I can’t wait to see what God has in store for this little brave warrior princess of ours.
"God, the LORD, created the heavens and stretched them out. He created the earth and everything in it. He gives breath to everyone, life to everyone who walks the earth." Isaiah 42:5