Sorrow revisited

The little voice from the top of the stairs said, “One..whee…two whee.” Our grandson, visiting with his family from Texas, had learned to come down the stairs on his bottom, counting along the way. He entered the living room with a sweet, “Hi, Grandma,” and a hug.

“I love you, Rylen,” I said, as I hugged him back.

Then it was on to Grandpa. “Hi, Grandpa.” He crawled up on Grandpa’s lap and snugggled under the blanket with him.

This had become a morning ritual during the week he spent with us in November.

We have had the privilege of seeing Rylen grow and fight the physical and mental challenges that he has met every day since he was born with hydrocephalus. And to watch the faith and commitment of his parents as they cared for him.

Before his birth the doctors predicted he would not survive. And we sorrowed. But he has lived for five-and-one-half years. A sweet, friendly little boy, who loves things with wheels and buttons. Who loves his little sister, and loves new experiences.

He began preschool in January. He loved school.

He is now fighting for his life in the hospital. We are sad for his pain and suffering. We are sad because we will no longer hear, “Hi, Grandma. Hi Grandpa.” He is totally in God’s hands.

In his short life, Rylen has touched the hearts of many people And I am sure he will continue to do so. But we are sorrowing again, and thankful for the prayers of so many for all of us.

Love your children while they are yours to love. Hug them and say “I love you” everyday.

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Love means action, not just romantic thoughts

I’ve thought a lot about the meaning of Valentine’s Day. We have never made a lot of the day since grade school. We commemorate it in small ways: cards, chocolates, flowers, maybe a special dessert.

Many celebrate romantic love on Valentine’s Day. I believe that we should also celebrate the love between friends and relatives. There are some pretty sappy expressions of love, but true love comes from God, for God is love.

True love means action, just as God showed His love for us by sending His Son to die for our sins and rise again to give us eternal life. The apostle John expressed it this way in his first letter: 1John 3:1 “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God.” – 3:16 “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.” – 4:7 “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” – 4:19 “We love Him because He first loved us.”

Showing love is for everyday. A telephone call, a note, a visit, or any other act of kindness can be love in action. We can always find someone to reach out to in love. Valentine’s Day is for everyone, whether married or single, old or young.

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Life Goes On

Life goes on. And whether or not our school children remember or our college students know what really happened, 9-11-01 changed life in America. On one hand it made us painfully aware of other parts of the world, made us aware of our vulnerability in today’s world, and it brought great suffering to many of our countrymen and women. On the other hand it made us temporarily united as a people and caused us to become aware of the work and sacrifice of our First Responders. I suppose it is only natural to put cataclysmic events behind us so we can go forward with our lives, but it’s a shame we forget so quickly.

I am saddened by the division caused by the moral and spiritual battles our country faces today. Most of the time it is easier to fight the enemy from without than the enemy from within. “A house divided against itself falls.”

Life goes on. Let’s remind one another of the experiences and lessons of history. Let’s remember the sacrifices others have made to keep us free. Let’s take responsibility for our freedoms. Let’s protect what makes our country good.

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Thoughts on Father’s Day

Many people tell me I’m blessed to still have my mother, and I agree.

I am also blessed to have many good memories of my father. Leukemia took his life in 1982. Like all fathers, he was not a perfect man, but he was faithful and loving to his family.

But when I think of my blessings in having a good dad, I know there are so many children, young and old, who do not have good memories of their fathers. Single moms heading one-parents families are common today. Some fathers are absentees, choosing to have nothing to do with the responsibilities of caring for their children. Some fathers have decided their careers or making a lot of money is more important. Some fathers think their job is to be a dictator, or they use verbal, physical, and sexual abuse to control their children.

I thought of this when I wrote Father’s Day greetings on Facebook this year.

My prayer is that you fathers will remember how much your children (and your wife) need you to take your responsibility to care for, love, and provide for them. And that you children will have the opportunity to heal the broken relationship with your fathers.

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A Day for Remembrance

Many years ago I marched in the Memorial Day parade in my home town as a member of the high school band, along with veterans, Boy and Girl Scouts, and various other groups. We’d stop at the Susquehanna River to remember those who died at sea, with the casting of a floral wreath into the water and a twenty-one gun salute. Then we’d march to the cemetery, where we’d salute the war dead with taps, speeches, and a twenty-one gun salute. Today many activities fill a Memorial Day commemoration, some related to the purpose of Memorial Day and some not. I still like to attend the ceremonies to help me remember the sacrifice of so many so I can live in freedom.

Today, with the erosion of Constitutional freedoms, the loss of rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and the balance of power among the branches of the Federal government askew, is a good time for remembrance. War is not glorious, but at times it becomes necessary. (Imagine where we’d be if Hitler had not been stopped.) The act of self-sacrifice on the part of the members of our military should be remembered. Memorial Day is to remember the dead, but I think there is plenty of room to thank the living who returned.

As a living American who reaps the benefits of their service and sacrifice, I want to be a faithful steward of the freedoms with which the United States has been blessed.

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Who Do You Follow?

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NKJ)

My husband sometimes uses an experience with sheep as an illustration for a sermon. He tells of the time when my father, who kept a small flock of sheep, demonstrated voice recognition on the part of sheep. Frank stood in full view of the sheep while my father hid from their view. My father called the sheep, but when they saw Frank, they ran to him because they recognized my father’s (their shepherd) voice.

I grew up with sheep, so I understand how easy it is for them to “go astray.” If for one moment they take their eyes off the shepherd and follow the wrong leader, they get lost or into a lot of trouble. Helpless in the face of enemies, whether human, animals, or disease, they need strong leadership to keep them in the right path.

As a Christian, I am one of the Lord Jesus’ sheep. Like a sheep, I am at times disobedient to His Word, or I stray after an imposter. Isaiah wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one, to his own way….”
(Isaiah 53:6) Jesus knows me; it’s up to me to follow Him. Jesus paid the price for my going astray by His death on the cross. “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” And because He had the victory over death by His resurrection, I have eternal life.

Who do you follow?

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A New Normal

A year ago, my husband and I entered into a period of change in our lives, resulting in moving out of our home of more than fourteen years, the beginning of a new job search for Frank, packing up two-thirds of our possessions (and downsizing by throwing/giving away), storing that two-thirds, living in an apartment for six months, then moving again and starting afresh.

I’m not always crazy about changes, but I have a distinct dislike for packing up and moving. Change isn’t always easy, but moving is definitely “the pits.” (I guess being homeless would actually be “the pits.”) I like to put down roots. I like to feel I belong.

We have been in our new home for six months. And we have come nearly full circle. Frank and I both grew up in communities nearby, so we are becoming acquainted and reacquainted. Life is beginning to take on a comforting rhythm. I think I finally feel like I’m settling into a “new normal.”  Then there is the question, “what is normal?”

Change is often difficult, but we have to be flexible enough to accept it when it comes. It is a fact of life.

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