More Memories To Be Thankful For

Last month we celebrated the life of Randy’s Uncle Harry.  We drove to the Atlantic Coast and attended his military funeral service and then spent a couple of hours with Randy’s cousins.  We were also thankful for the opportunity to see our son Jared and his girlfriend Rachel, who came from Iowa for the service.

Funerals are such difficult events but if you look past the sadness, they also provide a special opportunity to gather with people you love and don’t see as often as you’d like. I think that is part of God’s design. The sadness of knowing we will miss the one who has gone on ahead of us is eased by the joy of the chance to hug the necks of loved ones we haven’t seen for too long.  The reunion is a reflection of the grand reunion we will all have one day in Heaven.  What a  time that will be as our mourning is turned to dancing!14063885_10153931112866909_8693240004585967550_n

Having Jared come down was a special blessing. It was so hard leaving him behind when we moved last December. To have him come and be with us even for just a weekend was wonderful.  We took Jared and Rachel to the beach and they saw dolphins in the open water for the first time. We crammed as much as we could into the 2 days they were here and were glad to learn that they plan to come back for Christmas. We already have a whole list of things we want to do with them when they come back.

So, that was Maxey Memory #5.

Memory #6 happened last weekend.  Saturday was National Museum Day. Randy and I got free tickets to the  Ringling Museums in Sarasota. resizedwp_20160924_11_55_23_proWe spent the day exploring the history of the circus and got a dose of “culture” as we wandered through the huge art museum. The Circus Museum was quite amazing. Randy tried his skills on the tightrope exhibit.resizedwp_20160924_13_37_00_pro

I really enjoyed the huge display of the circus in miniature. So much to look at!  It reminded me of memories of my childhood and the fun we had going to the circus. A time when life seemed less complicated.resizedwp_20160924_12_33_41_proI have a new appreciation of all the work that went on behind the scenes to provide that fun experience we enjoyed.

After a full day we had dinner at Der Dutchman, an Amish restaurant that has a location in Plain City, Ohio. A place with fond memories of our years living in central Ohio.resizedwp_20160813_19_19_48_pro-2

So, that’s what I’ve been up to.  Have you made any memories lately?

It’s Okay to Take Baby Steps

She toddles and wobbles. She takes tentative steps and falls on her bottom. She strains and stretches and stands again. All the time he is watching from his position right in front of her, arms outstretched. He says, “You can do it! Look at my big girl! Come on, walk to Daddy.”  It doesn’t matter how many times she falls, or how wobbly her gait. He only sees her progress. He cheers her on no matter what. He knows she will find victory if she doesn’t give up. Finally she takes a couple more steps and lunges into his waiting arms. He smiles, hugs her to him and says “You did it! I knew you could!”

I’m sure that’s how I learned to walk. It’s how I am learning still. He still waits for me with open arms; He still cheers me on when I fall. He knows I will find victory if I don’t give up. He is my greatest encourager, my coach, my Heavenly Father.  Even when my progress seems insignificant, He still waits expectantly.

And He waits for you too.  Do you see His outstretched arms? Do you see the expectant smile on His face? Do you hear those words of encouragement when you have fallen for what seems like the thousandth time? He’s there. He knows you can do it. Keep walking; he’s waiting for you, waiting to wrap you in His arms and say, “well done my child, well done.”

Philippians 3:14 “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

 

There is Only One Who Can Truly Multitask

Are you good at multitasking? According to research done at Stanford University in 2009, the answer would be no. Their conclusions were that we don’t really multitask, or do more than one thing at the same time. What we actually do is try to focus on more than one thing only to have our brains jerk back and forth between activities. This causes us to be less productive at everything and defeats the purpose of multitasking all together. Our brains are wired to concentrate on one thing at a time in order to do it well. We sacrifice quality for quantity every time.

So, let’s apply this on a spiritual level for a moment. While it is a good practice to try to be conscious of God throughout your day, in the midst of all your other activities, it isn’t the same as setting aside time to just focus on the Lord and nothing else.  God wants us to take time to make Him our central focus, our top priority. You have surely experienced what it’s like to be talking to someone who is doing a zillion other things at the same time and you eventually realize that the conversation is getting nowhere. They really aren’t paying attention; they have too many other things jerking their attention back and forth. God wants us to stop our frantic lives for a time apart with Him on a regular basis. It’s the way He has chosen to speak truth and life into our spirits and if we miss it we miss something profoundly important to our growth and effectiveness in God’s kingdom.

But let’s shift perspective for just a moment. Do you realize that God isn’t wired like us in this area? He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. He is the Master when it comes to multitasking. He is all powerful, he knows all things, and He is able to be everywhere at once.  He is never spread too thin, He never has too much on His mind to pay attention to your cries, and He is with you wherever you go.

Isaiah 40:27-31 “Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord; my cause is disregarded by my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” 

Doesn’t it make sense to set aside time to spend with the One who always gets it right? He has the answers you need and is waiting to share them with you.

 

5 Things (At Least) That I Thanked God For Last Night

It happened again. Something very simple, that most people (including me) take for granted, was turned upside down. I was reminded to be thankful for something very necessary but something I don’t think I have ever actually voiced thanks for.

I came home from church last night excited about how the women’s Bible study had gone even though I had struggled through the evening because I have been having ear issues again. Sometimes my ears fill up and I feel like I am on an airplane. The yawning trick doesn’t work. Nothing works. I just wait it out. It, along with progressive hearing loss, is part of what people with Meniere’s Disease deal with.  As I sat working on my computer, the fullness in my ears that I’d struggled with at church seemed to be getting worse, loud ringing made it hard to concentrate. Then I turned my head…bad idea. The room began to spin and I knew instantly what was happening. A full blown Meniere’s attack. The first and only other major attack I’ve had was when I was first diagnosed in 2005. Generally I just deal with mild dizziness and not this overpowering vertigo.  I took some motion sickness medication,  had Randy help me get into bed and then I tried to lay as still as possible. He had put a bucket beside my bed just in case!   As I tried to relax, I started talking to God. I’d learned in our study at church that God’s strength is greater than anything  I can possibly face in my life. I started thanking Him for His presence. And I also began thanking Him for everything else I could think of. It helped to focus on being thankful and not on whether my stomach was about to rebel.

So what was I thankful for last night?  The first thing I thanked God for was my balance.  I’ve taken balance for granted. I shouldn’t. Last night was debilitating. I couldn’t move by myself at all. Even with help, it was very difficult. Today things are a  little better.  I took a shower by myself this morning. Do you ever thank God that you can take a shower without help?

The next thing I thanked God for was that I can hear. Even though it’s gotten progressively worse, it’s been 11 years since I was told I could lose my hearing and I can still hear!

I  enjoy a quiet house where I can turn on whatever music I choose and can listen from every room while I move about the house.  I could do that yesterday because the house is quiet.  It’s quiet because all the little people have gone on an adventure in Ohio.  I’m thankful for the quiet.

But I miss them. I will be glad when they return. Even a quiet and peaceful house is no match for the joy I get interacting with my grandchildren on a daily basis. Some days I long for peace, but when I have it, I realize it comes at a great cost. The precious moments I have with my Treasures are priceless.

I’m thankful for the special relationships I’ve built with each of these little ones. Gwenny comes in each morning and asks to smell my candles then asks, ” may I have a little lotion?”  I give her just a dot of lotion on her tiny hand and she rubs her hands together and grins.  It’s our special routine that I miss when she’s gone.  And the little boys come ask me to read some books to them.  And I find on my pillow, little folded up papers taped closed that when I finally get them open say, “I love you Grandma! Love, Ian.”  And the times spent with the older girls doing tea parties, crafts and reading together are so special too. So many wonderful memories being made every day. I am so thankful for this season!

And finally, as I lay there wanting so much for the spinning to stop, I thanked God for the opportunity to practice what I was learning about His strength. Thanked Him for reminding me that in the midst of this latest trial, His strength is still available. He has not changed. He is still a very present help in time of need. For this, Lord, I am truly thankful!

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

 

 

 

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Keep Moving Forward 

In 2007 Disney came out with a movie called Meet the Robinsons. I thought it was a rather random movie the first time I watched it. I couldn’t figure out what was going on at all. But afterwards I got to thinking about it and realized something interesting.

Did you know that Meet the Robinsons has a scriptural foundation to the storyline? While I seriously doubt that Disney did it on purpose, there is definitely a thread of truth, God’s truth, running through the movie.

The main character has a motto that is repeated throughout the movie. It’s simply this: “Keep moving forward.” It’s not a new revelation. Paul said it in his letter to the Philippians.

Philippians 3: 13-16 says :  Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.

Paul is saying to us “press on,” or “keep moving forward!” He also tells us to forget what lies behind.

There are two ways that we can get stuck in the past.  The first is with regret. God doesn’t want us to keep looking over our shoulder, focusing on our past, our mistakes, our disappointments. We all have those experiences and we can learn from them. But the point is to learn and then move forward. We need to live with our backs turned on our past. We can’t change it; we can only apply what we’ve learned and move on. If we stand still, constantly looking at where we’ve been then all the lessons we learned through those difficult times are wasted. We don’t gain from our past experiences unless we have an opportunity to make use of what we learned. We cannot do that if we stand still, looking back down the road we’ve already traveled. We also can’t move forward effectively if we are looking over our shoulder.

The second way we can get stuck in the past is to become too nostalgic. Maybe we are going though a tough time today and long for times past when things were easier.  Getting caught up in daydreaming and wishing we could return to a simpler time as a way of escaping what we are experiencing in our lives today isn’t our best road either. The fact is, it probably wasn’t as simple as we think it was. Life has a odd way of twisting the truth as we get farther from it.

Moving backwards will never bring us closer to God. There’s no other choice than forward if we want to continue to grow. Looking back and regretting our past won’t help us and yearning for some illusion of a time when life was easier won’t help us either.

We can only profit from our past when we keep moving forward!

What is Noble Character? 

The book of Ruth contains one simple verse that has become an inspiration for me. In Ruth 3:11 it says “Now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you whatever you ask, for all my people in the city know that you are a woman of excellence.”  What an incredible statement!  To be known as a woman of excellence!   Some translations use the words “noble character” or “moral excellence.”

But how did Ruth gain that reputation? Was it just a gift? I don’t think so. I think the scriptures point to a different reason that she was known for her character. Later, in the book of Acts, we see another reference to noble character.

Acts 17:11 – Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

The Bereans had more character because they did some things differently than the Thessalonians. They listened to, studied and applied the Word of God to their lives daily.  So, noble character can be acquired. It can be learned, but it requires a decision to work at it.

2 Peter 1:5-8 confirms that conclusion.  “Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral excellence, and in your moral excellence, knowledge, and in your knowledge, self-control, and in your self-control, perseverance, and in your perseverance, godliness, and in your godliness, brotherly kindness, and in your brotherly kindness, love.  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We are to be diligent to learn the ways of God which will transform us into men and women of excellence.  And what follows is that whole list of wonderful qualities from 2 Peter 1, which will grow in us as we remain diligent. Qualities that set us apart from the world and give us a reputation that allows us to represent our Lord Jesus for His glory, with great joy!

Hello, Hermine!

My first experience with a tropical storm. Well, not exactly. Last August when Alex, my youngest, and I were visiting Florida we briefly thought that Ericka was going to pack a punch but she fizzled out and didn’t do much at all. Then we had a little visit from Colin this spring but that wasn’t too bad either. The weather experts didn’t get too excited.

This week has been interesting as the experts watch the storm develop and make guesses as to what will happen. Not unlike the way they tracked blizzards in Iowa, actually.  It still amazes me how many people expect the meteorologists to have perfect forecasts.  And how nasty people can be when the predictions turn out to be off the mark.  How did we become a society that doesn’t allow for mistakes and adjustments?

Yesterday we got over 5 inches of rain. It rained all day. It was actually only about 75 degrees which was a nice change from the constant 90s we’ve experienced all summer.  We even opened the windows for a while. The smell of the rain was wonderful!

As we heard reports of road closings and church and school cancellations we knew it was time to take action. The growing pond in the back yard was also becoming a concern. Finally the guys left to get some sand bags and non-perishable foods incase we lose power. One discover they made was that there aren’t many choices of foods that don’t require refrigeration that don’t wear the label of “junk food.”  They managed to find sardines and tuna salad kits as well as some fresh fruits and raw veggies that will get us through if we need them. Of course, they had to make sure we had some pop tarts too!

In the afternoon, after it had been raining for hours, we realized that one of the downspouts wasn’t working. All the water was gathering at the foundation of the house.  Several of the adults went out and took turns climbing on the step ladder with various tools to try to clear away the blockage.  After much laughter and good natured teasing about how this wasn’t how they had planned to spend the day, getting soaked and dirty, the water began to run freely. There were victory whoops that I’m sure the entire neighborhood could hear!

This morning things are calm for the moment.  The rain has stopped temporarily and if you didn’t know what was coming, you might just think the worst was over.  The only indication that things are still changing is the slight increase in the wind. I guess this is the calm before the storm.  It makes me think about how life is that way too.

We can go along completely content, never realizing that the storm is approaching.  Then suddenly we are caught off guard. I guess it’s a good thing we don’t know what’s ahead all the time. God protects us from some difficult things in the future on purpose. Still, He does tell us to be prepared. He gives us many warnings about the general direction we are headed and asks us to trust Him and heed His warnings. We have things to do to prepare for the future. We would be wise to do so now, while the rain and wind are still off shore.