Saturday, March 29, 2014

Blind Sight to Blurred Vision

I was a student at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and it was my first Easter away from home. Due to a 5-hour distance between school and home, and the need to save money, I wasn’t able to go home for the weekend (Spring Break and Easter did not fall in the same week that year). So, I had no family to be spend Easter Sunday with (more appropriately called Resurrection Day for Christians).  Honestly, Easter was no big deal to me at this time. I had become calloused to its meaning. It was spending the Holiday alone that bothered me the most. I wouldn’t have minded staying at school so much if I had been surrounded by my friends; but they had all found someplace else to go, so I was feeling lonely and depressed. I later found out, being alone that day was what I needed. It taught me a surprising, yet valuable, lesson about myself, and helped me have a better appreciation of Christ's love for me.

During my time at school, I normally attended a church with my closest friends but, since none of them were available that weekend, my neighbor invited me to go with her. I accepted her offer and was excited about having some company. Besides that, her church was having a pancake breakfast that morning. "Why not?" I thought. So, I finished getting ready and knocked on her door. It was disappointing to find she had overslept and couldn’t make it to the church bus on time. The church service I usually attended had already begun by that point, and I felt like staying in my room and not going to church at all. However, something kept pulling at me to go ahead and take the bus to my neighbor’s church. Finally, since I was already dressed, I decided I would go ahead without her.

At church, I sat at a table eating pancakes with other college students I barely knew. I felt out of place. I finished eating, then headed upstairs to the sanctuary, arriving earlier than most of the others. I took a seat near the back and waited for the service to begin. As I sat there, I noticed a big, square, stained glass window at the front of the church. The framed window embraced an array of beautiful colors consisting of blue, yellow, green and red. Under other circumstances, it would have been interesting to me. However, I hate to admit it, I was still feeling sorry for myself and didn’t pay much attention to it. It was just a window.

The service began like any other service, with prayer and singing. I went through the motions with no real joy in my heart. But, then, my attention was sparked when an unexpected performance took place at the front of the church. The story of the "Ragman" was read by a student and dramatized by several others in pantomime style. To be brief, the story was about a man (symbolizing Christ) who traded his new, clean rags for someone else’s old, dirty rags. As he took a dirty rag, he also placed upon himself whatever infirmity that person had - a broken heart, a bleeding wound, a missing arm, or a fatal disease. Finally, the ragman entered a garbage dump with all of his dirty rags.... and he died.

It was during the telling of the ragman’s death that, for some reason, I was drawn to look up at the stained glass window again. This time, I was surprised to find myself focusing in on all the pieces of red stained glass. What I saw amazed me. I must have been blind not to have noticed it before. All of the red pieces were centered in the window and came together to make a cross. A beautiful red cross, symbolizing the one which Christ had been nailed to. He hung on a cross and shed his blood for the forgiveness of sins, all out of love. At that point, I realized how calloused I had become to the meaning of Easter (Resurrection Day). My vision was blurred as hot tears filled my eyes. The Lord’s presence surrounded me and I no longer felt alone. I knew the Lord was there with me, and had been the entire time. The reality of Christ's death and resurrection was once again renewing my soul.

When I left the church that day, I was a different person. All I could think about was the cross in the window, an unforgettable surprise. The sight of it made me realize how easy it is to take Christ's love for granted. This realization helped me understand the importance of celebrating the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It's not just another day. It's a special day that helps us reflect on the Lord and what He did for us.

As Easter comes around this year, I hope you don't think of it as "no big deal." Instead, realize that Easter helps us remember the biggest deal there ever was.


Monday, March 24, 2014

"I Like Giving" by Brad Formsma (Book Review)

I LIKE GIVING by Brad Formsma is a book based on the website by the same name: Both the website and the book include many stories about GIVING, that help inspire all of us to make a difference in others lives - and how age or money does not need to limit us!

Here is an example of one of the stories in video form:


The book is the written form of the stories. It has twelve chapters which share inspiring stories, but also includes personal experiences from FORMSMA as he shares his journey to living a more generous life. You can click below to read the first chapter: 


Here are some good quotes from the book:

"Joy doesn't come from filling your life with stuff. Joy comes from giving your life away." (p. 20)

"Giving is living, and when you start living generously, you'll be ruined for any other type of life." (p. 26)

"Did you know that giving actually has measurable health benefits and can help you live longer?" (p.67)

"Sometimes the giving that makes the least amount of sense brings the most joy." (p. 76)

"Giving is something you get to do, not something you've got to do. Giving promotes life and happiness. In fact, I've never met an angry and bitter generous person."  (p. 97)

"Every time we give, a story begins, and the rippling effects of one simple act are immeasurable." (p.195)

To go along with the "I LIKE" theme....

I LIKE hearing inspiring stories.

I LIKE receiving practical ideas on how to give to others.

I LIKE listening to the Lord's prompting to help make a difference in someone's life.

I LIKE giving.

Pick up a copy of the book when you get a chance! I received my copy FREE from Blogging For Books for review purposes, and I have expressed my own opinions about it.

Friday, March 14, 2014

A Possible Sleep Disorder for EL

EIGHT MONTHS AGO, our daughter was diagnosed with seizures and began taking medication to control them. As far as we know, she has not had any more visible seizures (unless she has had some at night that we haven't seen). However, for the past 6 months (or there-about), we have noticed some differences in EL's behaviors:  signs of depression, easily irritated, outbursts of anger, difficulty comprehending, and a decrease in cognitive function. After Christmas, I called her Neurologist to discuss whether or not the seizure meds were the cause of these changes. She said it is very possible. However, she also wanted to rule out a sleep disorder, since we had previously discussed EL's seeming lack of sleep. We were referred to the sleep clinic and an appointment was set for March 12th (which was this past Wednesday).

Our consultation with the Nurse Practitioner at the sleep clinic went well. They asked us a lot of questions and determined EL should be evaluated for a sleep disorder. The NP suspects either Restless Legs Syndrome or Sleep Apnea. Based on the behavior changes, and family history, I am thinking more along the lines of Sleep Apnea, but we will see. We are waiting to be scheduled for an overnight stay at the clinic, most likely sometime in April. I will be staying with her in the room. They will hook her up to all sorts of machines and watch her breathing, movement, sleep cycles, etc. They will also do an overnight EEG to determine if she is having seizures in her sleep. This is something we have been wanting done for several years, so its good we are finally getting it done. In the meantime, we are increasing EL's iron intake, and will also be giving Melatonin - two things recommended by the NP.

I am thankful for good doctors and for the medical technology that provides us with needed answers; but, if I were to say I'm not tired of seeing all these specialists, I would be lying. I know EL is tired  as well. Over the past 9 months, she has seen her Pediatrician, a Neurologist, an Endocrinologist, a Neuro-surgeon, an Ophthalmologist, a Neuro-Oncologist, and now the sleep clinic. She has also had bloodwork drawn several times, has had a sleep deprived EEG, and had 3 MRI's. It has not been easy on any of us. BUT...  the difficulties we face in this life are only helping to draw us closer to our Lord.

James 4:8 - Draw near to God and
He will draw near to you.