Advanced Preparation

As I write this blog post, Hurricane Harvey is barreling into our country (Texas). The news footage is filled with scary scenes of people either fleeing for their lives or else digging in and trying to weather the storm. Either way, having prepared in advance could make the difference between life and death. This thought had me contemplating some ways we can all be better prepared for the future.

Create a disaster plan. – Think through what would be most important if you had to leave your house suddenly, possibly never to return. What would be reasonable to take with you? It is prudent to have a backpack stocked with some food and water. It is also wise to have important documents copied and kept in this pack. I’m sure we’d like to take it all, but you may only have time to grab what is handy and reasonable to carry. What if you were confined to your house for a lengthy time? Be sure to have water, canned goods, medications, and batteries in enough supply that you could survive for at least a few weeks without leaving your home.

Take a CPR class. – Generally this suggestion won’t save your life, but it could be the difference between life and death for someone you love or even a stranger that is in medical distress. Check out various places in your community that may be offering training – the library, fire station, or churches sometimes offer classes. There are even online classes, although I would strongly recommend taking a physical class at least the first time so that you can practice chest compressions on a CPR dummy. Even after taking a class, you may feel fearful to put your knowledge into action. You may not move through the steps in perfect form, but at least you’ll have a better idea of what you should do. How horrible to have to stand around helplessly because you’ve never taken a class and have no idea what to do.

Carry a medical card in your wallet or purse. – I work in the healthcare field. Part of my job is to update people’s medical histories. When I ask patients what medications they are taking, more often than not I get incomplete lists. Some people know what condition they need to take medication for, but cannot remember the name of the drugs they are treating it with. I’ve actually had patients pull a pill out of their pocket and show me, like I’d have any clue what it is. I’ve encountered a number of men who answer my question with a shrug and say, “I don’t know what I’m on. I just take the pills that my wife sets out for me!” I’ve also had people tell me one or two medications and then end with the statement, “I think that’s all you need to know!” All medications have potential for cross reactions, including supplements. Non-prescription medications do count, as even an 81 mg aspirin can change bleeding time. My best advice is to make up a medical card that you can carry with you and update it frequently. You can alternatively keep a list on your smartphone or even take a picture of the prescription bottles. If you ever are in a serious health crisis, you may be too flustered to think through what you are taking or you may not even be able to talk. You can write out your medical info on an index card or you can create one online. I just made one up for free through CVS Pharmacy – https://www.cvs.com/drug/wallet-card-report.

Have an eternal plan. – Finally, as a Christian, I would be remiss to not advise that you think beyond this life. Although most people’s bodies don’t live more than 100 years on this earth, the Bible tells us our souls live forever (John 5:28,29; Luke 12:20; Matthew 16:25,26). What good does preparing for temporary disasters do, if you aren’t prepared to meet your God (Amos 4:12)? We may suffer setbacks for not preparing for natural disasters or health emergencies. Our lack of preparation could ultimately result in our or someone else’s death, but failing to face the consequences of our sin will assuredly send us to a place of torment that we’ll never be able to escape (Mark 9:42-48, Luke 16:19-31). When a hurricane threatens to destroy us, authorities tell us to flee to safety. When our sin threatens to destroy us, God (our ultimate authority) tells us to flee to the safety of His own Son (John 3:16-18; Romans 8:1). We don’t have the resources God requires to escape judgment. It is only through the gift of life that God’s Son, The Lord Jesus Christ, provides for us that we can ever be safe from the fury of the wrath of God (Romans 1:18; Proverbs 11:4; Psalm 2:12; Ephesians 5:6; John 3:36). Take heed! Don’t wait for another day!

Breaking News on the Blog: On September 5, Maturing With Grace will celebrate a year since my first blog post was published. It has definitely been a year of learning. It has opened this old mind to an area of the internet that I had no idea existed just a short time ago. I’ve had some fun adventures through gathering material for articles and it has pressed me into trying some activities that I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. It has made me search God’s Word for truths to convey, not only to my readers, but to the edification of my own soul. It has been fraught with difficulties, as I’ve had to try to keep up with the demands of weekly postings. Each blog post that I’ve written has behind it hours and days of research. My sweet husband has had to put up with me pouring over the computer for hours each week, all the while neglecting time that I could be spending with him. He has been with me on many of the adventures that I’ve later written about. It would be minimizing the sacrifices he has made to say that this last year has affected him too. I have had frustrating times trying to correct images that have resisted being upright and finding html codes that would create a seemingly simple box around a paragraph. I appreciate you readers who have stuck it out with me through the thick and the thin. Thank you for weeding through the grammatical errors to get to an article that may have helped your insomnia. Although my solid readership was only about a dozen or so people, I found it interesting that along the way people from all over the world have stopped by briefly (Canada, UK, China, Philippines, India, Australia, and Brazil – in descending order). I am starting into a demanding work schedule that will occupy much of my time over the next couple months. I have decided to take a leave of absence from blogging at this time. During my hiatus, I will examine whether it would be better to take it up again or lay it to rest permanently. I have gone ahead and renewed my domain name (maturingwithgrace.com) so that I have an option to use it in the future. Again, thank you all for taking this journey by my side and supporting me along the way. You are welcome to contact me either publicly by commenting on my blog or privately at heidi@maturingwithgrace.com.

God’s blessings!

Praying for Leaders

Hello Everyone!

Last fall, as our country was gearing up for the presidential election, I wrote a rough draft of this article.  I ended up not publishing it, mostly because I was seeing so many other bloggers writing in some way about the election.  I personally felt saturated politically and didn’t want to read one more article referring to it, even if it was my own.

So why send this out now?  I really thought (and hoped) that all the political hub-bub would have blown over by now.  Unless you are living on a deserted island with no cell phone coverage, you know that conflicts are still raging and likely escalating.  As the evening news airs each evening and our country’s latest governmental battles are examined in detail, I find myself feeling frustrated and helpless.  Will there ever be even a semblance of peace again?

My knee jerk reaction is to start looking for that deserted island.  I don’t want to hear anything anymore from either side.  Unlike many people, I’ve never enjoyed debates.  I don’t see them as entertaining contests, but as polarizing arguments.  I want to literally plug my ears and pretend our world is a happy place.

The amazing reality is that I’m not as helpless as I feel when it comes to affecting my governmental powers.  When I read the Bible, I find that I should be personally involved, rather than pretending my leaders don’t exist.  Now, if that last statement has you grabbing your sign to rally for your favorite side of a cause, I’m afraid you may be looking in your Bible for a long time to find supporting verses.  What we are told is to pray for our leaders.  They need our prayers, even when they don’t know it (in fact, maybe especially then!) and they need us to keep praying!  By the way, this includes, not just those in the volatile United States of America, but any of you from other countries who have leaders.  I think that includes all of us!

Reasons we should pray for our leaders, even when we don’t feel like it:

1) – We are to pray for all people. We are to pray for our fellow believers. Got that. We are to pray that our loved ones are saved or are restored. Got that. We are to pray for our enemies. Hmmm. We are to pray for the king. Hmmm.

1 Timothy 2:1-4 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2) – We are not only to pray for our leaders, but be thankful for them. Hmmm.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 – Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Colossians 4:2 – Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

3) – Our leaders, as bad as we may think they are, stand in God’s place. I believe this is similar to the mandate that children are to obey their parents. Children are not told to decide if their parents are God-like and then obey if they are. God has made certain hierarchies of authority and we are to respect and obey that position, as long as obeying them doesn’t keep us from obeying God. When we do honor them, we honor God in return.

1 Peter 2:17 – Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

Titus 3:1,2 – Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

4) God put our leaders where they are. This is a hard one for many Christians to accept. My questions are:  Is God in the minority when people vote in an ungodly ruler? Could God be doing something at this moment differently if some other ruler had been voted for? Is God powerful, except in the voting process?

Daniel 2:20-22 – Daniel answered and said: “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, to whom belong wisdom and might. He changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding; he reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with him.

5) – We were put in this country to pray for it. This country is just a temporary stop in our eternal lives. We could have been placed anywhere by God, but He put us here. Instead of entangling ourselves in the earthly affairs of our stop-over, we are to pray for our country and those who are leading it.

Jeremiah 29:7 – But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

6) – Finally, we are to pray for our leaders because they could repent and be saved. When you think of your governmental leaders, do you think there is any chance that they could get saved? Are those in your country’s leadership any farther away from God than I was before I was born-again? Can God save someone in our church, but can’t save our president? Is there anything that is impossible for God? Just think for a minute with me…can you imagine what would take place if our leaders repented and turned to God with all their hearts? I’m pretty sure there would be a huge attempt at covering it up because things would have to change. I think the best Washington DC psychologists would be called in because certainly some sort of mental illness must be responsible for such a radical change. Isn’t that what was implied with Paul (Acts 26:24)?

Jonah 3:5-7 – And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water….”

May God give us all a renewed urgency to pray for our leaders – ALL of them, no matter what political party they originate in. May He guide each person in authority, whether they know it or not and may He work His ultimate purposes through them, even if His purposes are to bring us into the last days. Last, but not least, may God show His ultimate power by enlightening their eyes to His truths and even, in His will, saving some to our amazement!

Today no matter if your country is run by President Trump of the U.S., King Salman of Saudi Arabia, Prime Minister May of Great Britain, Chairman Xi Jinping of China, or some other leader – pray for them.  You say that they are corrupt and ungodly?  Pray all the more!

 

Quick ‘Wasteful Living’ update:  We went through the pile of things we knew we had to donate and separated the items seasonally  Then I added a few more items from my closet and our son put in a bag of items from his closet  Although I’m sure I could have selected more things to bless others with, we ended up with a fair share to take to our local distribution center.  Sometimes it’s better to just take what you have rather than just waiting to see if there are more goods to add to the pile.

Photo Books + Wasteful Living Update

I’m going to cover creating photo books in today’s post.  As I’ve mentioned in past blog posts, I am a resolution maker.  For years one of my top resolutions was to organize my photos.  Early on in my marriage (and even before), I’d been pretty faithful in placing all my pictures in albums.  Then we had children.  That meant more pictures and less time.  In rare good moments, I labeled the backs of the pictures and placed them in albums.  More often than not, I just crammed the envelope of newly processed photos into an already overstuffed shoe box.  Eventually we moved into the digital age.  Our photography life still mainly consisted of vacation pictures (day to day life isn’t all that exciting), but we had an abundance of other pictures too.  Having a camera on my phone at the ready made spontaneous pictures more possible.  Hence, more to organize.

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Sweet Strawberries

Have you ever been to a pick-your-own berry farm? I never had during my 50+ years of life. Maybe five years ago, I bought a strawberry tower pot. It was a dismal flop – no berries! This year I decided to leave the growing to the experts, but still get the experience of fresh fruit.

This past week, my husband and I headed off to a local you-pick farm. As we were checking in, I could hear people around us who sounded like they do this every year. I felt like a child in a new school. Thankfully we weren’t given a lot of rules. Basically we were advised not to pick immature berries and to be careful not to crush the small plants.

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Breeding Worms (aka Wasteful Living)

I have a problem…I am wasteful. No big deal, right? I mean in the scope of sins we can commit, wasting must be near the bottom. But, it is there, over and over again, in the Bible.

The first thing that comes to mind is the story of the manna. In case you don’t recall the story in Exodus 16, here’s what happened: The Children of Israel had been delivered from their Egyptian task masters by a miraculous parting of the Red Sea (chapter 14). They were elated and they expressed their joy to God by composing a song about how great His deliverance was and how the Almighty would bring them into the Promised Land (chapter 15). Their satisfaction with their delivering Savior didn’t last long.  They hadn’t been on their journey very long before they angrily complained about being hungry. They went so far as to say that they should have never left their servitude because it was better back in Egypt. Instead of punishing these insolent people, God graciously provided special small, round pieces of bread, called manna. The people were to go out of their tents and gather it every morning. The one stipulation was that they were to take a specific amount. This guaranteed that they would have enough to eat, but not more than they could consume. Of course, some tested God. They took more than they needed and ended up leaving it overnight. In the morning, their wasteful bread attracted worms and it stank.

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man with diabetes sign

The Silent Dangers of Diabetes

Today, March 28th, is American Diabetes Alert Day.  I am dedicating this blog post to alerting people to the facts of this disease, especially to Type 2 Diabetes.

I confess that when I was younger I knew little to nothing about the disease called diabetes.  My awareness really began because a friend of mine discovered she had it.  Besides being a friend, this lady was also a dental patient who I took care of.  In observing this woman, I would have never suspected that she’d be diagnosed with diabetes.  The biggest misconception I had was that all diabetics are overweight.  My friend was a slim, older lady.  If anything, she needed to put on a few pounds!  However, from a dental perspective, I knew that something was wrong.  As I continued to see her for dental cleanings, her periodontal (gum) condition steadily deteriorated.  That, plus the fact that she had a really high rate of decay, made me suspect she was in a different category from my other patients.  At first I thought the problem was poor nutrition.  She admitted to eating a limited variety of foods and not taking vitamins.  I figured that possibly she was really suffering from a lack of vitamin C and recommended she both add citrus fruits to her diet and start taking a good multivitamin.  I also stressed that she really needed to step up her oral hygiene and I scheduled more frequent cleanings at our office for her. Continue reading

It can’t be morning already!

You hear that dreadful noise coming through your dream.  That constant and annoying sound that just keeps going on and on.  You struggle to make sense of the repetition and slowly your mind sharpens to the point that you can make out that the irritation is your alarm clock going off.  You reach an arm out from under your warm cocoon and are startled by the frigid air.  Fumbling around, you finally locate the snooze button and quickly draw your hand back under the protection of the warm covers.  You snuggle back down into your comfortably warm cloud and float back into the world of tranquility.  You are just getting back to your pleasant dream when the peace is broken by that blaring noise again.  You repeat this process for the next thirty minutes in nine minute intervals before you finally  yield to the electronic pest.

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Roller coaster

Out of Control

I have a little quiz for you today.  No groaning.  There are just a few questions, but you have to promise to answer honestly.  No hedging or justifying – just a simple yes or no.

  1. If you are going somewhere by car and traveling with others, short or long distance, do you prefer to be the driver?
  2. Do you prefer to do certain jobs around the house yourself (mowing the lawn, putting dishes in the dishwasher, doing laundry, etc) and typically reject offers for help in these areas?
  3. Do you take a leading role in projects and sometimes secretly revise others’ work when you are part of a group presentation?
  4. Do you seek opportunities at work or church where you can right the wrongs that you see (maybe you think the former person in this role didn’t put their full effort into the position)?
  5. Do you ever feel like your prayers are directing God?

I’m sure I could create more questions in other areas of life, but these are enough for now.  How did you score?  Did you answer yes to 3 of the 5 questions?  I think it’s time for all of us to look into the areas where we feel we need to be in control.

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Mary Pickford sad photo

Valentine’s Day with a Broken Heart

BROKEN HEARTHow do you feel about Valentine’s Day?  If the thought of it leaves you feeling depressed or lonely, you’re not unique.  According to one statistic, about 40% of people have negative emotions when thinking about the ‘Holiday of Love’.  If you are currently single, widowed, divorced, or have recently broken off a relationship it may seem like everyone in the world is celebrating except you.  Although I can’t change your circumstances, my aim in this short post is to give you some alternative things to focus on.  What if you are happily in a relationship and these ideas seem far removed from you?  Chances are you know someone who could use a boost in their perspective.  Read my suggestions and reach out to someone who may be lonely.  Better yet, send them a link to my blog and suggest they read it for themselves.  It might change a dreaded holiday into one they cherish.

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Sunset

New Year – End Your Day Well

Today is the last posting for my New Year series. I thought I should use this final topic to discuss setting ourselves up for a good tomorrow by finishing our day well.

My days have drastically changed in the last year. Many days have no specific deadlines now. I could wake up and go about my duties in a leisurely way, although I think that would be a foolish waste of precious hours.

Gears and cogs

There is one day that stays consistent through the waxing and waning of my life – Sunday. Sundays are…well, dare I say it?…choaos in high gear. Looking back, I have no idea how I held Sundays together when my children were little. Even now, when I don’t have little mouths to feed and little arms and legs to stuff into their Sunday best, I can barely get out the door. Some might point to the fact that I travel almost an hour to get to church or that many times I stay in my church area all day long. However, I really don’t think that my problem lies in those excuses.  I wake up 2.25 hours before I am supposed to leave. Any reasonable person (especially a person without others that are heavily relying on her) should be able to head out the door in peace with that kind of lead.

Instead, my Sunday face is not a pretty one. Most of the time I’m leaving with a look that contains a mix of frustration, panic, and even a bit of anger thrown in. Somehow those two plus hours go by with lightning speed and once again I’m walking out the door ten minutes later than I intended.

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