Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Leaving A Legacy

I recently attended the American Association of Nurse Practitioners Conference in San Antonio.  It was my first trip ever to San Antonio.  To my delight, my hotel was only about three blocks away from The Alamo.  Every day I either walked or took a shuttle bus about four or five blocks to the Henry Gonzalez Convention Center.  However, as I walked back to my hotel, I always made an effort to visit The Alamo every day.  Some days I would just sit outside and meditate.  One day I took a brief tour of the facility.  Yet, viewing The Alamo was such a tremendous blessing.  Something about the way the warm Texas sun shines on the building is breathtaking. 

As you may recall from history, Texas was trying to secede from Mexico in the 1800's.  The Alamo, initially a Spanish mission, subsequently became a fort for the Texas Army.  After several weeks of fighting, the powerful army of Santa Anna took The Alamo on March 6, 1836 from some brave soldiers, killing all of the defenders, including William Travis, Samuel Bowie and Davy Crockett.  After this massacre, the cry of "Remember the Alamo" rang throughout the land as the Texans ultimately gained their freedom.

Hence, The Alamo is a somber place, almost like a cemetery, the site of the final days of some brave men.  As a matter of fact, as you enter The Alamo, tourists are encouraged to treat the site in a reverent manner.  No cell phones, no pictures, but to treat the area with the utmost respect.

Within The Alamo is a plaque which lists all of the men who died and their home states.  Some were even from England.  Yet, I got to thinking about these men.  Surely they weren't perfect and had made many mistakes in their lives.  However, they finished strong.  Even though they were overwhelmed by an outnumbered Mexican Army, they fought to the deaths and their legacy remains.

So, what is your legacy?  What will people remember of your time on earth?  I would hope that people would remember me as one who loved the Lord Jesus and one who fought battles (such as cancer) with all of my heart.  I pray that my life, my writings and my influence will forever shine as The Alamo in the Texas sun.

Paul describes dealing with battles in this way, "... we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body"  (II Corinthians 4:8-10). 

Remember the Alamo!!!!



       

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Seeing Life Better

I have been running fairly consistently for about nineteen years now.  One thing I have observed while running is how scenery looks different when you run by it as opposed to driving by it. 

For example, the other day while running on Deerfoot Parkway I became aware of several items along the road.  First of all, there were things I didn't necessarily want to see.  The shoulder of the road was littered with all sorts of soft drink cans, beer bottles, liquor bottles and candy wrappers.  I even saw the remains of a dead possum (which apparently had been dead for quite some time).  I'm not quite sure why some motorists treat the side of the road like a garbage can.  Yet, the possum didn't have a choice for its untimely demise.

On the other hand, I was able to notice some more noble items as I trudged down the road.  For example, I observed the wonder of the many trees and shrubs which lined the parkway, all with various shapes and sizes, diverse leaf patterns and indescribable beauty.  Even the manmade items had a sense of wonder, e.g. the precision at which the road had been constructed, the lines along the parkway, and the tons of gravel which had been placed on the shoulder, things which I take for granted but had a unique glory as I jogged on by.

Hence, what is the lesson for all this?  Basically, when you have to slow down in life, you gain a new perspective on your surroundings.  Some things appear more evil (such as the trash on the road) but other items become more beautiful as you are able to focus on the intricacies of their creation.  Hence, slowing down (such can occur with major illness) can provide unique perspectives that could have easily been missed in the hustle and bustle of life. 

        

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Surrounded By Witnesses

A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending a reunion of former members of South Avondale Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.  This church, which was established in 1917,  has been a part of my family for years.  My grandparents attended there.  My mother started there as a baby and attended there most of her life.  My father joined the church when he married my mother.  My sister, brother and I all attended South Avondale.  Unfortunately, I had to leave for a different church in 1983 when I moved to a different part of town.  But, I essentially attended the church for about twenty two glorious years. 

Needless to say, it was a big thrill when we gathered in the sanctuary of the church a few weeks ago.  As a matter of fact, I almost started crying as I heard the worship team and band practicing as I entered the facility.  The sights, the sounds of exaltation, and the warm embrace of old friends made it a moment to remember.  In addition, the presence and affection of the new members there (now called Redeemer Community Church) were exhilarating. 

During the service, the pastor mentioned that the original church had buried a time capsule in 1917 and that the new church was going to open the time capsule later this year to reveal its contents.  In the sermon, he even read a letter which was supposedly buried in the time capsule from the first pastor, Reverend Inzer.  It was a sweet, sweet letter from what sounded like a godly shepherd.  Also, if I recall, the letter mentioned "the war" which was occurring at that time (which we now refer to as World War I).  It will be interesting when the time capsule is opened later this year and will give a glimpse of the heart of the congregation at that time.  What were their hopes for future generations?  What was important for them to place in the capsule?   

Finally, after a time of worship, a challenging message and communion, we had lunch outside with the new members and relished the days of old.  

Looking back on this special day brought to mind Hebrews 12:1 which states,  "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.."  How indebted I am to the witnesses who have propelled me along the way!  The friends who helped developed the foundation of my life, whether it were the old friends I saw a few weeks ago at South Avondale or even the first pastor of the church whom I never met, although he was thinking of me when he penned his letter for the time capsule.  Have I made some mistakes in my life journey since the early days of my life at South Avondale?  Absolutely.  Yet, being embraced by those who continue to love me and pray for me in whatever situation give me the strength to carry on in life, no matter what the tribulation.     



Thursday, April 14, 2016

Happy Birthday To Me!!!

I'm a little late penning this blog.  Yet, I had some thoughts as I celebrated another birthday last month.  As is my custom, I thoroughly enjoyed the caramel birthday cake so wonderfully constructed by Rickey J.'s bakery down the street.

So even though I am late sharing this particular blog, it really doesn't matter in the broad scheme of things.  Every day in life is precious, especially when being told my chances of living five years after my cancer diagnosis were only 15-20%.  Of course, if you know my story, my cancer reoccurred in my lymph nodes in 2006 and I underwent chemotherapy.  My five year anniversary of treatment officially was around June 15th, 2011.  So, as of today, by God's grace and plan, I am still very much alive, in spite of the odds.

There was an old wine commercial which stated, "We will sell no wine before its time".  In like manner, I know that I am not going to die one second before it's supposed to happen.  Psalms 139:16 states, " Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; and in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me when as yet there was not one of them."  My length of days are all pre-ordained by God.  

So, not to worry, my death will come at the right moment as God plans.  As a matter of fact, I guess one could say I'm already living on borrowed time.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Read Your Bible

I've been privileged to write two books, "A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer" and "Glorified Sickness: Honoring God Through Illness."  I am always thrilled when I hear from someone who has read one of my books.  Just last week, I got a phone call from an elderly gentleman who had read my first book and absolutely loved it. His wife also called me and was also very complimentary.  Nevertheless, these phone calls made my day.

After all of the research, all of the many hours writing and editing, the time meeting with the publisher, basically the extreme effort it involves in writing a book, it is thrilling to discover that it touches someone in some way.  It's great to write a book or two...it's even better to find out someone has actually read them and were moved in a special way.

Come to think of it, there is even greater book which is probably found in most people's households.  It has a much better author than myself, the topic is much more interesting, and its words are eternal.  I'm talking about the Bible, the greatest book ever written.  Just as I enjoy it when others read my books, how it must please the Heavenly Father when his creation reads His written word.

Hence, in whatever situation which confronts us, perhaps the best advice is to read (and live out ) the Bible, "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith." (Hebrews 12:2).  

  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Putting Life On Hold Temporarily

I was greatly looking forward to this past week.  Why?  Because I was going to have a week long vacation from work.  After not taking off any time since last summer, I was ready to be off and relax. 

The first day off was fun.  I played golf with my father and some golfing buddies.  I didn't shoot too well but it was good to hit the links after a lengthy absence.

Then it happened on the second day off.  Of all things, I started coming down with a cold (which is extremely rare for me).  I didn't really have a sore throat or nasal congestion.  However, I developed a persistent cough.  In addition, I have felt extremely "washed out" during this time period.  So, what should have been some fun vacation days for me have actually turned into your basic sick days.  Any dreams I had of accomplishing great things this week, e.g. cleaning around the house, trying to get caught up on some paperwork, etc., have been put on the back burner.  Each day I have done little more than guzzle cough medicine and lie around the house.  Not the best vacation in the world.

Yet, sometimes that is what happens in life.  Due to illness or other distress, life gets placed "on hold".  There is really nothing to do but wait out the storm.  Hopefully, when the storm dissipates, life will resume as it is supposed to be.  The same place you get off the merry-go-round is where you get back on, ready to resume the ride.

I hope to be back in action soon.  But for now, much to my dismay, life is temporarily on hold.



Thursday, February 4, 2016

Getting Firm Footing

I went out shopping for new tires the other day.  I didn't buy any, but was just checking the prices on various brands at different stores. 

One store I visited was advertising some tires which provided "serious traction".  Basically, the ad described tires for all-terrain vehicles (ATVs).  In looking at the advertisement, I was amazed at the variety of treads on these tires.  Some were like dimples, some looked like zigzags, some indescribable.  Nevertheless, whatever the tread pattern, the major purpose of the tires was to allow vehicles to ride in rugged terrain without incident.

Come to think of it, just like a car cannot run without wheels, you can't make it in life without some "serious traction" as the ad proclaimed.  This does not necessarily mean tires, but anything to hold on to during times of distress.  It can be your faith, your family, friends or even your finances (good luck with that).   However, I feel that ultimately the best option of stability is to trust in the Lord.

Psalms 55:22 states, "Cast your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you;  He will never allow the righteous to be shaken."  No matter what the weather or the terrain, clinging to the Lord provides, as the ad proclaims, "serious traction".  Ready to hit the road?