O Happy Day

January 12, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Marty Norman –

Remember the song “O Happy Day”? You know, the one about Jesus washing our sins away and teaching us how to rejoice, love and pray each day. Well those are the lyrics that came to mind as I sat down to write this article, probably because I’m in a place of joy and thanksgiving myself.

So many things I’m thankful for: Palm Sunday, Easter, Mother’ Day, my grandson’s 8th birthday, safe return from my Mercy Ships Mission trip, good friends, loving family and health. The list goes on. But today I’m thankful for the publication of my new book, and I wanted to share my joy.

God is good. I marvel at how he creates each of us, giving gifts and talents, time and treasure to help him build his kingdom. I’m more than grateful for the gifts he’s given me this year.

I’m overwhelmed with pre-release details but God is even in those. Especially the women I meet at book signings, the ones who share their heart and love for writing. Over the past few years, I’ve noticed God is raising up an army of women writers. It’s as though he’s calling many to speak up for the kingdom and has provided this season for such a time as this.

The book encourages leaving a legacy of faith, for the Lord has created each of us unique. He expects us to use his gifts for his glory. As I age, I’m drawn to scripture that exhorts us to pass on faith to the next generation.

Psalm 71:18 Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation. NIV

Psalm 145:4 One generation will commend your work to another, they will tell of your might acts. NIV

Proverbs 17:6 Children’s children are the crown to the aged and parents are the pride of their children. NIV

These scriptures pose the question – how are you planning to pass down your faith?

For me it’s easy – through writing. It’s my passion, my life. But there are so many other creative ways to tell our stories, to pass on our faith. I’ve met so many women with creative ideas that I never thought of.

Mary is a scrap booker. She shares her faith through combining scripture and photo journals for her grandchildren. Sharon is a quilter. She shares her love for Christ through amazing quilt works. Suzan is an artist. She paints her faith while Karen sings her faith, making up special songs for each grandchild.
I don’t know how you are sharing your faith. But I want to encourage each of you to get your stories down in some creative form. We never know how much time we have left. Once we are gone, our stories are lost forever.

So, “O Happy Day” is not just a song, it’s a mantra. A way for each of us to give thanks and glory to God who richly blesses us beyond anything we do or deserve.

Are You Out-Running Old Age or Allowing It to Catch Up with You?

January 11, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Julie Morris, R.N. –

I always said that exercising helped me to out-run old age, but now I am beginning to understand why!

News came out recently of a study by Dr. Beth Levine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. She is studying the health benefits of exercise on mice and discovered this important fact: exercising increases the body’s ability to get rid of trash.

All of us have trash caused by broken-down cells that needs to be removed. This trash-removal process is called autophagy (aw-TAH-fa-gee). Autophagy may also help protect us against cancer, infection and other diseases.

Just as your car gets dings and the tires wear out, the structures inside of our cells wear out and need to be replaced. Autophagy collects these worn-out pieces and wraps them in a membrane. Then it carries them to a tiny spot inside the cell, called a lysosome, where there are recycled and digested into reusable products. Bottom line: out with the old–on with the new.

Dr. Levine’s studies have concentrated on autophagy in mice, but it’s a good bet that this process is the same in humans. Let’s look at one of her test results.

She discovered that mice that were fed high-fat diets to create diabetes associated with obesity were able to reverse their diabetes when they exercised daily for eight weeks. She found that mice that exercised for 30 minutes on a treadmill increased their autophagy 40-50 percent. Those that ran 80 minutes increased their autophagy 100 percent. Those that didn’t exercise were not able to induce autophagy and were unable to reverse their diabetes.

Dr. Levine and other researchers feel that these results have implications beyond the effect of exercise on diabetes. They speculate that autophagy may represent a cellular mechanism that prolongs life and protects against disease.

If spending 30 minutes or more a day will make me healthier and help me to out-run old age, I’m going to do it! How about you?

A Return on Our Investment

January 1, 2021 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

Raising children is quite a lengthy investment with no real guarantee of a certain return. It’s probably the only investment my dear husband embraced with me that had no tangible outcome. We raised three children, two years apart, all believers. That is worth the investment for sure but there have been others.

While raising them, we prayed together, read Scripture as a family and were involved with our church. We set boundaries, gave them responsibilities and established consequences for their choices. Family traditions were important to building family values and cohesiveness so we created many, like vacations to the beach and skiing. I planned evening meals together for most days. In short, we did what most Christian parents do. We did the best we could to “train them up in the way they should go” (Proverbs 22:6 NIV)

For us that meant, not only appropriate discipline and exposing them to Christian values but also discovering with them who God created them uniquely to be. That meant allowing for self-expression that wasn’t always pleasant or what we would have chosen, like the time we allowed our son to get a spike haircut. Our thought was that if we allowed choices of self- expression that were harmless, he might not feel the need to make more self-destructive choices.

Then the teenage years hit and the roller coaster began. Verbal self –expression of feelings and desires played into the discovery. I’ll never forget the day my 16 -year old- son said to my husband, “I want to punch you out right now.” My husband calmly said “You seem really angry. How come?” An honest conversation ensued. My son’s anger dissipated. Peace was restored to the family.

Frankly, I wasn’t sure what path our son would follow. A few years ago, we begin to get a return on that investment. One evening, our son and his wife were sitting with us on the back porch of our home. He had just won a big sales award and we were celebrating. Here’s the first return. He said, “You know I would never have won this if it wasn’t for you guys, especially you Dad. You gave me my work ethic and that’s what won it for me.” Wow! Dave and I were blown away. Those words were like a taste of rich, creamy homemade ice cream. A return we had only hoped for but didn’t know it would really come.

Another return came several months ago. My son called and asked if I would talk with him before I left for home. We spent the next two hours discussing the dynamics of our relationship. I was so proud of my son’s relational courage.

One more stands out to me happened a few weeks ago. He sent a forward from a friend. He wrote in his e-mail “this really speaks to me.” It was a verse from the book of Phillippians.

There have been other sweet returns from the invested years of parenting. All our children practice some of our family traditions. The beach is still very important in their lives. They are all believers though they express their faith differently. Our son and his wife lead a small group last year in their church. His wife told me he seems to have the gift of teaching. What a sweet return.

I really had no idea if our parenting years would reap the investment I longed for. But, we have received abundantly more than we could have asked or imagined, as only the Lord would do.

Bring on the Sunshine

December 29, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Health and Fitness

By Cami Checketts –

Serving others brings sunshine into our very souls and health to our bodies. Jesus gave us the greatest example of serving our fellowmen. I suppose part of the joy that comes from serving is because we are acting as Jesus would.

I’m always searching for ways to teach my four sons to serve each other and serve others. They love to play outside and be active so we try to combine making opportunities to serve… and get some exercise. The following list includes a few of our favorite ways to do both:

1 – Going to the park. We love riding our bikes to the park and bringing our baseball mitts, lacrosse sticks, or a soccer ball. The little ones play on the play-set while the big guys work on improving their skills with their favorite sports, and we all enjoy some great family time. When we have the chance, we bring neighbor or family members’ children to give the parents a break and do a little service.

2 – Yard work. Sometimes it’s hard to convince the boys that this is fun, but we usually make it through once they get in the spirit of it. Gardening also burns almost three hundred calories per hour and if you plant vegetables you’ll be blessed with healthy and inexpensive food. It’s especially fun if we can help others with their yard work or share the produce from our garden. Last spring our nine-year-old came up with the idea to pick all the peas in the garden and take them to elderly people who couldn’t get out and grow their own vegetables. It was an unreal experience. The people were grateful for the peas, but even more grateful for a boy who took time to think of them.

3 – Going on visits. When it’s nice outside and we can ride bikes or scooters to visit the elderly or those who need a friend, it makes it much easier to get my boys excited about visiting.

4 – Nature walks. We love to walk around our area and appreciate the beauty the Lord has blessed us with: a newborn calf, wildflowers, frogs in the pond, sticks we can battle brothers with. Our world is so beautiful. And there are many opportunities to bond with family members when we get outside to enjoy them (except when the stick battle gets a little out of hand!).

5 – Hikes. We recently took our boys on a seven-mile hike through ankle-deep sand. It was miserable, but they were champions. They helped each other and they helped me have a good attitude. They talked about our ancestors who had to walk across the plains, and they reminded me that sometimes they were starving and dehydrated, but we had water and half a granola bar to share. It turned into a neat experience (that I don’t want to repeat soon!). We learned a valuable lesson: we need to be more prepared when we go on serious hikes (pack more than half a granola bar) and always keep a positive attitude.

These are just a few ideas that get our family outside, give us more opportunities to serve and bond together, and have fun. During this beautiful time of year, I pray we can all get out and enjoy the sunshine as well as share the sunshine with others.

What is your favorite outdoor activity? How can you incorporate service into these activities?

The Gift in Alzheimer’s

December 21, 2020 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

My mother has Alzheimer’s. She can’t recall common nouns, like shampoo. She doesn’t remember that leaves fall off trees in winter. She no longer recalls the names of my children. She thinks my brother and his wife still live in town when they’ve lived in East Texas for 20 years. She counts and recounts the money in her wallet a dozen times in the three mile drive to her beauty shop because she can’t remember how much she has. She can’t read a menu and she wonders what a taco is. Parts of her brain are being destroyed but she doesn’t know it. For Mom, there is nothing wrong with her memory.

I’m the oldest of three children and the one who lives nearest my mother so I’m the primary caretaker. I raised three children who are now young adults, working and starting families of their own. I’ve been married for 35 years. I have a Master’s Degree in Counseling and I’m a certified Life Coach. I’ve worked with survivors of sexual abuse. I taught classes to police officers, teachers, counselors, and other helping professionals. I was a Bible Study Fellowship leader, Sunday school teacher, and small group leader. But nothing prepared me for walking this journey with my mom.

Often times I’m angry that this responsibility has fallen on me. My brother and sister are willing to help whenever I ask, but they are too far away to be involved in the day-to-day caretaking. When I leave town, I have to make sure she can get to the beauty shop. I pay her bills, keep up with her money, make sure her clothes are clean and meet whatever other need that arises. I resent that I’m the one who has to do this. There are times I think about just walking out and leaving it to the others to figure out. But I can’t. This is my mom and I want to honor her. Beyond the obvious physical proximity to her, I believe God has another reason this has fallen on me.

The other day she had an appointment with a new neurologist. I dreaded it. I didn’t know how she’d react. I wondered if she’d lash out at me in anger and refuse to go. I just didn’t want to do it. I tried to get out of it. I actually was hoping I wouldn’t be over my cold. But I was. I’d just finished the book “A Thousand Gifts’ by Ann Vosscamp. She believes that there is a gift from our Sovereign God in everything. So I asked Him “what is the gift in this disease called Alzheimer’s? What is the gift in my having to deal with my diseased mother and take her to the doctor today?” I thought I’d really stumped God on this one for sure.

Then the Holy Spirit reminded me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV). Off the couch I sprang to pick up my mother for that doctor’s appointment.

Later that day the Lord reminded me of my prayer to serve Him and my desire to serve His way, not my own. He answered my prayer. This was His way for me to serve Him. Serving Him His way was my second gift in Alzheimer’s.

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