The Prettiest Mann I Know

October 5, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Mary Sefzik –

Some people come into our lives and quickly go, but others leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never the same. I met such a person my freshman year of high school. I heard about Melissa Mann through a mutual friend and was excited when my Braille teacher, Linda, arranged for us to meet.

Melissa greeted me with a big hug. “I’m so happy to meet you.” Her voice always sounded as if she were smiling.

I felt drawn to this positive, bubbly, blind lady who had overcome so many obstacles: diabetes, two kidney transplants, and multiple heart stints.

Melissa was a shining witness for Christ and the story of her kidney transplant is a testimony in itself. She recounted the day the doctor examined her chart and slammed the door in frustration. He discovered her kidneys were functioning at only eight percent. She should have been on dialysis much earlier. Almost 16 months later her doctor delivered more bad news. Her heart had swollen. Without a new kidney she had six weeks to live. Then a miracle happened. Two small kidneys belonging to a three-year-old child were available. Those kidneys, which Melissa affectionately named, Bert and Ernie, gave her nearly twenty years of life.

Melissa never met a stranger. One evening we were so engrossed in our dinner conversation the waiter couldn’t get a word in edgewise. When Melissa realized he was ready to take our order she said, “I’m Melissa and this is Mary. We’re two blind women who love to talk so if you have something to say just jump right in and say it. We won’t mind.”

Her joy always encouraged me. “Melissa,” I confided one day. “I’m so tired of waiting. I’ve been looking for a job for a year and a half.”

“Mary, at times like these you need to hang on to God. Hold on tight now, and give Him the reins to your life. He promises in His Word that He will never leave us or forsake us.” Tears stung my eyes as she shared this gem of truth.

“Do you know what keeps me going through all of this?” she continued. “As long as Jesus is in my life, everything’s going to be all right. St. Paul says it doesn’t matter whether I live or die because I’ll be with Jesus whatever happens. And those of us who are believers, we’ll be together forever. Sure that time when we’re apart will be tough. We’ll miss each other, but honey, we’ll all be together forever in the end.”

Melissa is with her Savior now enjoying a new glorified body. I know I will see her again in heaven. Until then I will strive to leave my own set of Christ-honoring footprints on the lives of those around me.

The Feeding Frenzy

September 9, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Diane Mayfield –

Five women got their bags packed and out the door by 6:15 AM to make a 7:10 flight from Vail to Fort Worth. We arrived at the airport in plenty of time to turn in our rental car, check our bags and go through security with time to spare.

We were on the plane, headed down the runway right on schedule. Then it happened. The captain comes on the speaker and says, “Folks, there seems to be a problem in the instrument panel. We have to return to the gate.”

The return to the gate ended up being a six-hour flight delay out of Vail. The good news is that we did get to disembark.

Once back in the waiting area, all five of us sit against the wall with our electronics plugged in and charging. We look like little ducklings (maybe not so little) all lined up in a row. It’s 10:00 and I am hungry. We all are. We’ve been up since five. In this tiny airport there is one choice for food, a tiny coffee shop with pre-made sandwiches. That was not going to work for me. I have celiac disease and have to eat gluten free.

I start the hunt. First I find out that I can have food delivered, but it must pass through security like everyone and everything else. Now I have to find the food. Pizza is the logical choice. It’s easy to deliver and many places now offer gluten free pizzas.

After about an hour of searching, I finally find a place open and close by that serves gluten free pizzas. The only problem is that a major bike race is happening and traffic is an issue. The restaurant owner wants a guaranteed order of $100 to deliver the pizza to us.

That is not stopping me. I’ll gladly pay. Then it hits me; everyone else is going to be hungry too. I shout out to other passengers in the waiting areas. “Anyone interested in purchasing pizza slices if I order it?” The number of yeses convinces me I would at least break even. I place the order, and forty-five minutes later, pizza arrives.

When I look at the slices, I know I can’t charge people the five dollars per slice I was going to originally. My four traveling companions, who obviously have better business sense than I, aren’t initially too happy paying the lion’s share of feeding the masses. That is until it is over and they witness with me what happens.

In the pizza frenzy and afterwards, the atmosphere in that waiting room completely changes. The dreariness of waiting shifts to lightheartedness, smiles and laughter. People come up to us and share some of their stories. Chatter fills the once silent room. The little children run by us and say hi. In an hour, a community is formed among strangers.

We all laugh, commenting that this is a little like feeding the five thousand.

Five sisters in Christ traveling home from a girls’ trip already full and rich with blessing, received another one. We built a memory that will carry us through the years of living life together. I can’t help wondering if that same sense of community occurred among the followers of Jesus that day He broke bread and fed the multitudes.

Perfect in Weakness

August 23, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Carol McClain –

We thought my mother never took a whole piece of chicken because she preferred the bones. After we ate, we’d pass the remains of our meal for her to enjoy. Years later, she revealed that while she loved to gnaw on bones, what her family didn’t eat was actually her meal.

As a child born during the Great Depression, my mother’s parents inadvertently fed into her insecurities. She wanted to go to college and major in art, but they wanted her provided for and convinced her to marry instead. Thus at eighteen she married, by nineteen she had her first child. As a housewife, my mother never believed in herself, only in living for her husband and her subsequent six children.

She knew her husband to be more intelligent than she, so she relied on him to earn a living and make decision. She would cook, clean and be a wife.

Life was hard. Both became dependent on alcohol until illness waylaid my father. My mother found herself at thirty-three working low wage jobs to supplement his income. However, with his illness, she worried he might die and feared for her family’s fate.

She had no faith in her talent or her intelligence, but fear drove her to school. She graduated from a community college as a physical therapy assistant.

She continued to drink, worked her jobs, tended her children, enrolled in a four-year college to become a full-fledged physical therapist. It looked as if she conquered all, but God had one more thing to show her—and, at last, she hit rock bottom.
She recognized the toll her drinking took on her family, so she joined AA. There they taught her to believe in a higher power, which eventually enabled her to understand the saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Through faith, her self-esteem grew. She opened her own practice and the family flourished at last. Her trials taught us how to live responsibly, how to trust in Jesus Christ, how to work for our goals. But most important, we learned the power of weakness.

My mother never took credit for the succor she gave others. She understands she made the decision to fight for a better life, and the rest was in God’s hands. My mother proved to us the scripture that, “‘…(God’s) power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor. 12.9).

My mother still loves to gnaw the meat off bones, but nowadays it’s from T-bone steaks shared with a family that both recognizes and emulates her strength.

Paid In Full

August 10, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Mary Sefzik –

I recently bought a new iPhone, and along with this tech toy came a bill. As a blind person, writing and mailing a check was not my first choice. I decided to try paying online. I created an account, logged in, and entered all my information—only to be met with an error message. I tried again but was greeted by the same unknown error. I went on to Option No. 2—paying by phone. Entering numbers quickly as a beginning touch screen user was not going to happen. My frustration level increased as an automated voice kept repeating “I’m sorry, I don’t understand you.”

With tears rolling down my cheeks, I launched the AT&T app on my phone. This time I was told my user name and password did not match their records. I screamed. Why did something that should be so simple turn out to be so hard? I took a deep breath and tried again—focusing all my brain power on entering the correct letters. Finally, Success! I received a text message saying my payment had been processed. Another tech battle won.

Paying bills is a necessary part of life but there is one bill we can never pay—the debt of our sin. All the money on earth couldn’t pay this debt. There is only one payment option and thankfully it is a one-time payment. And the payment process is easy. No need to create an account with a secure password containing at least one capital letter and one number. No pesky capchas to solve or security questions to answer. All the fields have been filled in for you. Every sin you’ve committed in the past or will commit in the future has been paid for in full by Jesus’ death on the cross. No multi-page agreement here.

All you have to do is accept His terms. Accept the fact that you are a sinner, believe Jesus defeated death by dying on the cross and rising from the dead, and accept Him as your Savior and the Boss of your life. Your one-time acceptance of these three simple terms grants you eternal life in heaven and strength to meet the daily trials of earthly life. This promise is secure—unaffected by company mergers or computer hackers. Your confirmation number is John 3:16 NIV “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Act now. This is a limited time offer. Today is the day of salvation.

The Goodness of Imperfect Fathers

July 28, 2022 by  
Filed under Christian Life, Family Focus

By Carol McClain –

My father wasn’t perfect—he drank too much, smoked unfiltered cigarettes and died too soon. However, these aren’t the moments I recall. Much of the goodness in me and my family is the direct result of him.

He adored my mother. I remember him coming home from work, and we kids would crow for his attention. We received our hugs and kisses, but then he got to Mom. He’d hold her in his arms and they’d cuddle and smooch—none of us existed in that moment. Their love came first.

His interests centered on his boat—and the boat meant family time. We spent summers sailing the Long Island Sound, fishing—we’d fish, he’d bait our hooks and remove our catch. Then we’d picnic on sandbars. As the commander in the Long Island Coast Guard Auxiliary, he modeled his dedication to altruistic causes.

He’d arrive home from work at the same time daily. The great joy of my life was to “surprise” him by walking the half-mile to the main road to meet him.

His positive traits inspired me.

He consciously taught me not to smoke by showing me the tar his cigarettes produced.

My husband, Neil, bought a boat, and it’s the one motorized entertainment I relish. And today, when Neil’s return from work nears, I grab the dog and walk down the route he takes. I feel a childhood joy in meeting my love, of cherishing my faithfulness to my spouse.

These are heirlooms I can finger, joys that play out in my life today, details that show my father’s impact.

And how about you, fathers? You see your flaws, and honestly, so do your children. But they see your goodness and both will impact them for the rest of their lives. Strengthen the good.

“Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed” (Heb 12:12-13).

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