Sunday, August 23, 2009

Another trip to see Mom and Dad - Another life lesson

At the beginning of August I made another trip to Florida to spend a long weekend with Mom and Dad. For those of you who do not know - my Mom has battled Alzheimer's for a number of years and Dad has done an amazing job loving and serving her.

My siblings and I all take turns (one of us about every six weeks) going down to see them, helping out doing whatever we can for them. We all feel like Mom and Dad sacrificed greatly for us as we were growing up- and this is the least we can do to give back to them.

It's strange how the two people who gave themselves to help each of us - now need us to give back to them so their final years are as comfortable as possible.

One evening on this trip Mom and I were sitting on the couch. Mom had a trying evening and dad, who normally handles things very well, had gotten upset with her. She looked over at me with pain in her eyes and she said- "This is a terrible thing! " I looked into her eyes and said - "I know it is Mom and I am so sorry you are going through it!" She then said - "I'm going back to the doctors and we are going to get this taken care of." My heart just broke for Mom as we sat there. She was so frustrated. All of her life she found ways to get anything and everything done - but this was something that was beyond her ability to stop or turn around. Alzheimer's is a terrible disease slowly eating away at the life of it's victim. And in this case the victim is my Mom. I went on to try to assure my Mom that a day was coming when she will be in Heaven with our Lord and all of this terrible pain was going to be gone forever. But this brought little comfort to her that night.

There is one amazing blessing God has giving us in this trial - Mom is not angry - but has been very caring and concerned about others throughout this entire illness. Thank you Lord!

As I think about this recent trip and my love for my parents - I, once again, come face to face with how important it is for each of us to live in a way that blesses others and leaves behind a legacy of love.

Just recently I was thinking about how much my Mom believed in each of us. She spoke encouraging words to us all the time. And she told us we could do whatever it was we put our mind to do. What a blessing that was for us as children growing up.

I am generally a very optimistic person. The glass is half full - all the time. And this attitude has blessed my life greatly. (Thanks so much Mom!)

So who are you influencing right now? Are you blessing them with your words? Are you leaving behind you a legacy of love and godliness - or are you selfishly living life for yourself. There's still time to influence others for good - go for it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


I recently flew down to Florida to visit my parents. Dad is now 83 and Mom is 82. They retired to Florida 25 years ago. They have been married now 60 years.

They married after Dad came home form World War II. He went to college on the GI bill. He and Mom were married and then lived in the married student housing (a small mobile home) at Michigan Tech University in the upper peninsula of Michigan. But then Mom’s mother passed away so Mom and Dad went and lived with Mom’s Dad until Dad graduated.

My brother Bob was born there in northern Michigan but Barb and I were born in the next city Mom and Dad lived in – Springfield, IL. After four years in Springfield Dad changed jobs and we moved to the Chicago area. Karen was born there. We rented for a few years and then they were able to buy their first home: 846 Alfini Drive, DesPlaines, IL. I believe that was 1957. (We loved the neighborhood and especially the nearby farmer’s field. It’s amazing how entertaining a field can be.

We were a one-car family until I was 12 years old. It had to be hard on Mom to have four young children and no transportation until Dad came home from work. Especially since during the week Dad traveled from Tuesday through Friday. So there were many days and nights that Mom had no transportation. Money was always tight. But Mom was a master planner. She could stretch the money Dad made to meet all of our needs. Sometimes she stretched it too much. Powdered milk was not at all popular with us – especially if we got a whiff of the plastic container Mom mixed it in. She did learn that if she mixed ½-powdered milk with ½-real milk we would drink it – so she settled on that. We ate dinner every night together at the kitchen table. Nobody left the table until the meal was proclaimed over by Mom. And we did not decide whether or not to eat. No, we had to eat what was placed in front of us. (There were children starving in Africa!)

Dad took a transfer to Pittsburgh when I was 12. Three of us went to college and left the nest from Pittsburgh. Karen finished school in Dad’s next transfer – Portland Maine.

Mom and dad paid for each of us to go to college. I barely made it in (thank God for my math ability.) They did make us work summers to earn spending money for each school year but they took care of the rest. To this day I do not know how they afforded it. All of us learned the importance of working hard, the importance of truthfulness, the importance of a good education, and much more.

There were many good days and some rough days over the years. Mom and Dad clashed a lot. But you know what? They were dedicated to each other and to their children. They got married for life and they meant. It.

Now they are quite old but seem to be more in love than ever. Mom developed Alzheimer’s and Dad stepped up to help her. As I was with them a few weeks ago I was moved to tears more than once as I watched my Dad patiently answer the same question hundreds of times (no exaggeration). He has to do everything for Mom. She cannot bathe herself she cannot dress her self. She cannot do anything for herself. But Dad is there, helping her every day. His patience is amazing. His love is sure. His heart is with her. He said to me – “Mom took care of me for fifty years, now it’s my turn to take care of her.”

As I have meditated on my parents I have rejoiced in the value of this rich legacy we are receiving. Yes, Mom and Dad are still building for us kids this legacy of faithfulness, a legacy of honor, a legacy of covenant love. And I will be eternally thankful for their love and for their example. Thank you Mom and Dad – for everything! What a life you have lived. What a legacy you are leaving us. God please help me do the same!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Have you heard this saying before - "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water?" I think it's pretty universally understood - but in case you are not familiar with it - it's basically saying - don't throw the good out with the bad. Or, don't reject the good because there is some bad with it.

I've been thinking about my 26 years of journeying with Jesus Christ. I've been around a lot of different brothers and sisters in Christ. I've been immensely blessed - but also have experienced some error (like everyone else.) I've been hurt by the error and I have hurt others with my error. Error is impossible to avoid - but what we do after we recognize the error makes all the difference.

One of the things I've asked Daddy God to help me with is this- I don't want to reject any truth because there is error with it. I don't want to throw out the baby with the bath water.

For example I don't want to reject the importance of faith because I got into legalism through my interpretation of Faith. (And yes that did happen.)

I've been around a lot of Pentecostal and charismatic brothers and sisters and I've seen some error - but I don't want to throw out the good just because there is some bad.

I have been on a quest in God for 26 years. A quest toward intimacy. A quest toward truth.

I was raised in church but my early life experiences were all legalistic - you do certain things and don't do other things and you please God; the God that sits on His throne a zillion miles away; the God you believe exists but you have NEVER experienced in any way...

So now that I have come to Him and continue to mature I see this whole thing much differently. Christianity is not an organization of people that just try to live by a moral code, it is a family of sons and daughters of God. And this family, that I have been adopted into, is a family that is fully accepted by our Heavenly Father, through His GRACE!

Now what kind of family would it be if Daddy never spoke to me, if Daddy never directed my life, if Daddy never corrected me, if Daddy never said I love you? And I'm not referring to His written word. I know the absolute importance of His written word. It is what everything else must be judged by. It is critical that all of us spend a lifetime studying the Bible. But what I'm talking about here is His intimate words to my heart. His personal leading and directing in my heart. Much of that will come through the Bible - but much of it will come other ways. Other intimate ways.

What He has made so clear to me over the last ten years is that He wants an intimate relationship with me. He wants me to hear what He is saying to my heart. (I Kings 19:11-12, "...a still small voice.") He wants intimacy with me - because that is why He created me. He created me to walk with Him and to live out my destiny in Him - which brings glory to Him. He created me for a grand adventure. And for me to participate in that grand adventure - I have to develop an intimate relationship with Him - I have to be led by the Spirit of God. I have to hear His voice. I don't determine when He speaks or what he says - but I have to hear Him.

And that is why I can't throw out the baby with the bathwater. I can't throw out all "supernatural" things just because some of what is called supernatural is not. I can't throw out all prophecy because some prophecy is off. I can't throw out all tongues and interpretation because some is off. Etc, etc... And as I mature in Him it becomes easier and easier to determine the difference.

I'm not going back to legalism and head knowledge. I'm pressing into intimacy with Him - living transparently, and accountably (if that's a word) in the local church I am part of, and studying His word (the Bible) to help keep me on the right path. It is the most exciting and rewarding life one can live. It's about destiny. It's about intimacy with my maker.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's simple but rarely easy!

I've been thinking about the "things" of God. And it seems to me that when I finally do get something (concerning God and His Kingdom) it then seems so simple. It's like - why didn't I see that, or understand that before. Why do I make things so difficult!
This is how it goes down for me - Before I understand something it seems hidden, complicated or mysterious. But after I get it - it seems so simple, pure and obvious! Huh!
I believe my problem is - I try to figure things out on my own - you know, using common sense and intellect (STOP LAUGHING NOW!). OK, I don't have a lot of intellect - but I'm doing pretty well in the common sense area.
Listen to
I Corinthians 3:18-21 from the Message Bible, "Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture, He exposes the chicanery of the chic. The Master sees through the smoke screens of the know-it-alls. I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else."
Why would God give us this warning. I believe it is because we have a tendency to lean upon our our natural abilities. Now God wants us to use our abilities but he doesn't want us to lead with our abilities. He wants us to yield to Him and follow Him. I call this "the dance of GRACE." He leads I follow. If you watch a couple ballroom dancing, only one of them is leading. But the one following must use all of their abilities as they are led by the other. This is a picture of God and us. It's His wisdom we need. And when the Holy Spirit whispers the wisdom of God in our heart - the light turns on and we say - that's so simple!
My struggle is to deny myself and yield to God! So often - I'd rather do it my way. I need to remember
Luke 9:23 "'Then He said to them all, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.'"
When I do yield to Him - I am so blessed. Father help me deny myself and follow Your lead.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Christmas is over for another year, and after the holiday I went to the store and checked out all the Christmas decorations, then on sale 50% off. I noticed there were almost no holiday decorations about the birth of Christ. How sad that the real reason for Christmas has been all but lost to most Americans. The picture I've included here is of a plastic nativity scene I recently purchased. It is 40 or 50 years old. It's like the nativity scenes sold back when I was a kid. Kathy's mom had one similar to this one. They were very common and inexpensive. Back then I remember more people having nativity scenes up at Christmas. I love nativity scenes, they help me focus on the unimaginable thing God did for mankind back at the first Christmas. He became man and was born in the lowliest place - a dirty stable out behind an inn. Jesus left His glory in Heaven and became man - but not only did He become man he became a baby and experienced life in all ways. As hard as I try I cannot comprehend this sacrifice God made for me. Oh what love! I want to spend eternity getting to know Him more and honoring Him for what He has done for me - for all mankind!