Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Another Page Turned...A New Chapter Begun

At long last, the longest month of the year (at least in my opinion) fades into the pages of history, and with it, meteorological summer!  This has been an uncommonly long month filled with broiling heat, stifling humidity, and seemingly endless nights in which the temperature failed to drop below 80.  There is only one good thing about August--it ends!

Now we move into September and the hope of a fall with cooler temperatures and the promise of vibrant colors as Autumn looms on the horizon.  This year there is an added bonus to the family.  Within the next several days, the latest King will make her appearance.  She is already showing the world that she is one energetic young lady by doing gymnastics inside mom while growing and developing in preparation for life.

How fitting that the family's newest addition comes in as the seasons begin to change.  She will be welcomed with open and loving arms and will be a marvelous addition to the ever-growing list of grandchildren.  Spring is seen as the season of renewal and growth, but Autumn is the season of enormous beauty and hope.

Trees turn bright colors as the chill of the season begins to replace the oppression of the summer.  One cannot go more than a mile here in the Midwest without being struck by the glory of nature in transition.  Likewise, we, as a family, will also note a magnificent transition with the arrival of this new granddaughter.  There is no limit to the love that this little one has engendered.  She has already captured the heart of the oldest to the youngest members.  She is a reminder that life flows through human existence and will not be denied.  She is a manifestation in her own right of God the Creator Himself.

Her parents Josh and Melissa are now counting the unknown hours till their new joy arrives in this world.  Time seems to slow to a crawl at this point, but, as we all know, before we realize it, the youngest grandchild will charge through life and the passage of time shall seem to be measured only in seconds.  But what glorious seconds they will be.

And so, as we bid farewell to August, and with it the ravages of an inhuman summer, we look forward to the freshness of the Autumn breezes and that of a new life.  We enter this season with love in our hearts and hope in our very existence.  God is indeed glorious and giving and this is one transition that will be greeted with all the joy of the meaning of new life!

Friday, August 27, 2010


Life holds endless opportunities for growth and understanding.  From the moment of our conception, our parents begin teaching and guiding us through the many perils and pitfalls of life.  We learn how to relate to others.  We learn how to communicate.  We learn how to make decisions and see them through.  We learn how to embrace the things which are good for us and reject the bad and deal with the consequences of those bad choices we will inevitably make.  Most of all, we learn how to love.

My mother is a spry 83 years old but is struggling with a new lifestyle that is difficult for her to accept.  When I was a little boy struggling with whatever things I may have struggled with, she was there, listening, allowing me to vent and try to work out things on my own.  She would step in only if she saw what I was about to do would end up hurting me worse than I may already be, or she would step aside, knowing full well that whatever she may say or do I was hell bent to do it regardless of the cost.

As we age, we hopefully begin to acquire a sense of wisdom gained mainly by listening to our parents.  But it seems like it often takes some time for us to practice such wisdom!  Eventually, we usually do employ this quality making life a little easier to bear.

One of the most unique aspects of life I have discovered is the fact that as both we and our parents grow older, our roles begin to shift.  Once, they parented us, looking out for us, caring for us, and seeing to it that all our needs were taken care of and that what we did possess allowed us to experience a degree of happiness. 

As my mother has aged, there have been times when I have felt that I had become the parent and she had assumed the role of the child.  My mother has rarely come to me to talk to me to help her with some problem or issue she was grappling with at the time.  That just isn't in her nature.  Or so until very recently. 

There has been a great deal of gratification in this.  But, also, there is a sense of sadness.  Gratification, because I am able to draw upon years of life spent finding my way through those very pitfalls that she once helped guide me through.  But, sad, too, because I realize that she is now more dependent on me than I am on her on several levels.  I welcome this role and thank God for the honor and the opportunity to lend my ear to this very independent and proud woman. 

We all find ourselves at various points throughout our lives finding ourselves amidst surprising clarity.  It is now more clear to me than ever before why I have experienced the things in life which I have experienced.  God has allowed me to undergo trials (many of which were initiated by me), in order to apply the outcome of these trials to those around me who are in need--including my very own mother.

The moral of the story is this.  No matter how old you may be, no matter how aggravated you may become with your parents, always find a way to be present to them.  It is very clear that as they age they will need you in ways beyond your wildest dreams.  But you need them, too.  Not so much to protect you from the bumps in life, but to continue to grow within, thus becoming a better human being.  Never take them for granted for God has given them to you for very special reasons.  Embrace them as such.  Hold on to them, and once they are gone, keep alive the memories that you have of them by sharing them with succeeding family generations.

One day, if we all live long enough, we may very well find ourselves in this role reversal.  It is not an easy task but it happens because our loving God embraces us with the power and the ability to love someone on levels that He will continually reveal as long as we draw breath.  Even after our parents pass from this life, we continue to learn from them because, again, a loving God has given us minds that are capable of traveling far beyond our mortal existence.  Take strength in your parents and treasure each moment, each phase that you share with them.  Realize that this is the love of God touching your life in a very special way!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

An Amazing Story

My mother continually surprises me at how amazing she can be.  On June 30 she fell and broke her hip in five separate pieces.  She was forced to lay flat in a hospital bed for three days awaiting levels of coumadin in her bloodstream to lower to the acceptable level so surgery could be successfully performed.

Surgery went well and her recovery began.  A week or so after her surgery she was transferred to a nursing home in the nearby town of Peoria about ten miles from her home town.  While there, she has gone through weeks of painful physical therapy as well as a drastic change of lifestyle that includes dependency on others for nearly all of her needs.

Over the weeks she has grown stronger and stronger and now, almost two months to the day she had the accident, she is ready to move back to her home town.  That is remarkable in itself, but the most remarkable thing is how she arrived at her decision that it would be necessary for her to spend the rest of her life living in a nursing home.  This is something that she has been steadfastly against for as long as I can remember.

My mother has never been a particularly religious person.  At least she has seldom spoke of her relationship with God.  I know she has one, but to what extent I had no idea.  She told me on the phone that the other night as she lay in bed, she grew fearful of what was to become of her.  She wanted to return to the assisted living facility that she has lived in for the last several years.  But that was not possible given her accident and blindness from macular degeneration.  She said she turned to God and said to Him, "I lay all my fear at your feet and ask you what to do."

This is an amazing statement from a woman who is not easily given over to her emotions.  She is not one to wear her faith on her sleeve.  Never has been.  However, one of the things she has become involved in while in the nursing home is a Bible Study group in which the members not only study scripture but talk about how their faith effects their lives.  She said that she has spoken up in this group about her faith in very personal ways like never before, certainly not to strangers.

God does, indeed, work in mysterious ways!  During her stay at the nursing home He has obviously used this time to open her heart to His Word and the Spirit has guided her to learn from this experience.  She said she had her answer in about 45 minutes when suddenly a sense of serenity came over her in a way that she had never felt.

Never, in my life, had I ever thought I would hear this kind of personal story from my mother.  God's majestic ways happen in the most unlikely of places to some of the most unlikely people.  And when He does act, His actions not only effect the person to whom He answers, but often to those around them. 

My mother's story has touched me deeply.  Her testimony to me came as a complete surprise.  Her faith in God and trust in His will has set me to thinking about my own faith and trust in God.  God, in His own unique way, has touched both our lives and we are the better for it! 

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Mosque

Over the last few days, a media firestorm and frenzy has erupted over President Obama's comments made at the annual White House dinner celebrating the end of Rama Dan.  The President in remarks made during the affair asserted that those of the Islamic faith have every right to build a mosque on private property anywhere they want.  The President said this to affirm that the first amendment to the United States Constitution protected all faiths.

The very next day, the President appeared to amend his comments of the evening before when he said to a reporter that he stood by his viewpoint from the previous evening but was not going to make any comment regarding the wisdom of such a move.

Only radicals far to the right are making the assertion that Islam does not have the right to build a mosque only a couple of blocks from ground zero.  The most certainly do!  The constitution guarantees that.  But that is not the argument no matter how much the White House tries to spin it in this direction in order to take the political high ground.

This issue is one of sensitivity.  Nearly three thousand people were killed only  a stone's throw from the lot where the proposed mosque is to be built.  It was the blood of innocent Americans going about their daily business while providing a life for their families.  The terrorists behind the attack were Muslims.  That does not mean that they represent the entire faith!  But it does mean that when most people think of 9/11 they do think of the religion to which the killers belonged.

The mosque should not be built that close to the scene of the greatest attack on American soil by enemies determined to destroy our way of life.  But it is not a constitutional issue.  It is a matter of sensitivity to those who lost loved ones, family and friends, on that dark September day now nearly nine years in the past.

All clear thinking people know that the Islamic faith is not one composed mainly of blood-thirsty war mongers waiting for just the right time to kill as many Americans as possible.  We know that the Koran teaches compassion towards others and that, for the most part, the members of Islam are a peace-loving, peace-seeking people trying to make their way through this life just as we.

Those who wish for the mosque to be built need to put themselves into the shoes of the survivors of the attack on the World Trade Center.  The wounds inflicted that day are, for so many, still fresh and bleeding.  It takes time to heal when a loved one passes because of natural causes, but when they are slaughtered like innocent lambs, the hurt is much deeper and more penetrating.  To build a mosque that close to what amounts to a cemetery for the many victims who were never identified is a slap in the face of those loved ones. 

We must peacefully urge those who are planning this project to pause and remember the passing of so many souls on a bright September morning.  We do not have to have a mosque only two blocks from Ground Zero in order to prove that we as a culture love and encourage diversity.  All the world needs to do is take a close look at us and they will recognize that diversity has been a part of the American fabric throughout its existence.  We are not a perfect society, but we are the best one the world has ever known!

Build the mosque elsewhere.  Celebrate the diversity of those who were killed in the cold-blooded attacks.  But don't listen to those who would turn this into a constitutional argument spurred on by a President governing from poll results.  This is not a constitutional issue.  It is an issue of sensitivity and it is high time that we become sensitive to our own people!