Friday, April 22, 2016

Urgent Plea for Help


Good morning, Everyone! Have a question for all of you.

Have you been blessed by God today? I know a good deal of you will give a resounding "yes!" to that question, and that's a wonderful thing. But.

Here in Houston, there are some who have been blessed to see another day, but the day ahead of them is filled with anxiety and fear.

As most all of you know, we were hit with flooding that some have said is a 500 or 100 Year flood (depending on who you talk to). Regardless of how many centuries we're talking about, we have some areas that are falling through the cracks. Not on purpose, mind you, but because the needs are so many and the emergency workers are so few.

I have been asked to help in an effort that is hitting brick wall after brick wall. One of my good friends, Stella, has asked me to send out a plea for help. She is trying to help the families of the Ninth Grade Campus of Dwight D. Eisenhower High School. That area has seen some devastating flooding and so many families have been displaced. Let’s be honest here, there are some areas that can take the hit because the families have the means and insurance to recover in a reasonable amount of time. This area has families that can not.

I am distressed to see her hit so many walls in getting help for these families. The first to step up should be our Brothers and Sisters in Christ. 1John 3:17 says: 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? In Philippians 2:4 it says: 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

In Proverbs 29:7 it says 7 The righteous considers the cause of the poor, But the wicked does not understand such knowledge. We, as Heirs to the Most High God have the responsibility to help those in need.

Matthew 25:35-40:

35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; 36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? 38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? 39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did itto one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

This really hit me between the eyes. I am far from being a well off person, but I have clothing I can give...I am able to donate a few cases of water. Small things in my eyes, but for them, a blessing beyond blessings for they have, at this point, nothing.

There’s another thing. There are children who are missing. It is not known whether they are being sheltered someplace and have not yet been reunited with their families, or if they are truly missing. Imagine if that were your child. You no longer have no home, no more possessions, transportation, clothing. All you have is what you left your home with...some with only the clothes on their backs. Then you find out they can’t find your child. Put yourself in their shoes. Desperation is a weak word to use here.

I’m going to put this out there now and you can judge me all you want, but it has to be said. It doesn’t matter where this school is. It doesn’t matter what the income level, demographics, ethnicity, it doesn’t matter. What matters is our Family, our Houston Family is in need. Children are not with their families. Something needs to be done and done now. How will you respond? Me? I’m going to clean out my closets and pantry to give what I can.

I encourage you to search your hearts, and homes for whatever you can give to help these folks in their time of need. It doesn’t matter how much, even a little will help. Please contact me or Stella if you can help.

Thank you, Everyone for your help in this desperate time.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

An open blog for Donald Trump...

Good day, Mr. Trump!

I've been watching your campaign for quite a while. You see, while I am a registered Republican, I do tend to watch all of the Candidates...that are worth their salt. Unfortunately, if one were to measure quantities of salt and apply said quantity to each of the five Candidates on both sides, I'd say the total measure may not even add up to a cup. But hey, that's my opinion, and that's not why I'm writing this blog. Its about Texas, and the scarceness of the Candidates so far.

Yes, Ted Cruz is our Senator/Candidate, and I am thinking that you think that he will sweep the State. While that may be true,and Primaries aside, I still haven't seen his face grace our newscasts. If the nomination goes to contest, all bets are off, all delegates go back to square one and it's a free-for-all for the remaining candidates. But you know that already.

You may have heard while on the Campaign trail that Houston was hit with the worst flooding that they have experienced in recent memory. Not even Tropical Storm Allison caused the flooding and damage that this line of storms has caused. I've heard the terms 100 year and 500 year floods tossed around a lot. Really, that doesn't matter. What matters is the devastation that is going on even as I type this. Families who have never flooded are seeing their homes of 15, 25, even 50 years suffer from the in excess of billions of gallons of water trying to find someplace to go. Lives have been lost, people are misplaced, livelihoods are destroyed. Some have insurance and the means to move forward, but a great deal do not.

In the Meyerland area, for example. Last Memorial Day they had some severe flooding. Some of those families are just now getting back into their homes, only to have flood waters come in and wash away a year of restoration work, and all they own. Some will pull on the hip waders and go through, trying to salvage what they have left...others will give up.

In Greenspoint, many apartment complexes have water still up to two feet. These are folks who can't afford to replace everything they own...they're relying on the Red Cross and humanitarian organizations to help them to get back on their feet. Some are in shelters, some are in other family's or friend's homes, some are still there, wondering what to do next.

The thing about Houston, though, is that we come together. Watching my friend's list on Facebook, almost everyone is doing something to help somebody. People are checking on friends, neighbors and relatives, offering food, shelter, help. We had an Equestrian Center go under water not far from where I live. Total strangers went there to help rescue the more than 80 horses that were caught in the flood waters. In Greenspoint, the Red Cross has asked for volunteers and counselors to help with the onslaught of people who are coming there because they just need to know someone cares. They want to know that people will listen, even if they are not sure what they want. They receive prayers, counselling and help at that center. People have responded. So many organizations, Churches, businesses, even the regular Joe and Jane off the street are rallying together to help where they can. Newscasters and reporters are side by side with Emergency workers helping people to evacuate their homes, bringing food and necessities to those who can't leave.

So why am I telling you all this? Because we need a President who cares about the people of Texas. Not because it's part of the Campaign trail, not because it looks good, but because everyone of his or her constituents matter to him or her. I'm not suggesting you come here and spread the wealth, so to speak, although that would help immensely, but come here and tour the affected areas...Meyerland, Katy, Cypress, Spring, and get your hands in there, helping where the help is needed. Pray with those who just need to have someone to pray with them. Comfort those who have experienced devastating loss. Let the people of Houston, and ultimately Texas, know you care about them, not about the number of delegates the State provides. Then, Sir, you may actually have a fighting chance against Ted Cruz here.

You know as well as I do that things can change in a heartbeat.

Be safe. Be well and may you be blessed as you continue your quest for the Presidency.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Oh, look! There's Nessie!

Okay, so maybe not, but there's some serious rain going on over the Gulf Coast.

We've been in this house since March of '01. Not the most sturdy house in the neighborhood, heavens knows that we've had our fair share of fixes and repair, after all, the house is forty-three years old. However, through Hurricanes/Tropical Storms Rita, Allison and Ike, never once have I had water in the house. Bees, yes, water no.

Apparently this year is different. There's been talk on the neighborhood sites that this could very well be a 500 year flood season, and that's possible, but all I know is I have a bunch of chickens disguised as dogs in my house. Okay, well, my big girls, Bailey and Izzy are better than my daughter's Japanese bred pooches, and as I think about it, they should have the ability to tread or even maybe even like water in their DNA. Nope. The Min Pin will swim the small lake on my back porch, go to the grass, look around and swim back. Because he doesn't even leave a carbon footprint, his paws usually don't get wiped down like the other dog's do. Anyway, as soon as he's dried off, he runs to either the hallway or my room and poops, then comes and tells me about it. Grr! I suppose I should be amused that he tells on himself, but seriously, you're out on the grass, do your business and come in. No spanking necessary! Sheesh!

As for the Shiba mix, he's more creative. He stands on the windowsill outside and pees. He hasn't figured out how to poop from there, when he has to he braves the water, does his business and runs back to the door where he will balance himself on the step until I open the door. I have never seen a dog who thinks he will melt if he touches water with his paws before. I've always heard Shibas hate water, but have never seen it with my own eyes. Its quite comical, actually!

Oh, my house. Some minor water seepage, nothing all the towels in the house won't take care of. No water damage to any furniture or electronics, so God has blessed this home. All that ended up happening is that I got my leg exercises in for the least for now.

If you're in Houston or the surrounding areas, please be safe. Don't drive if you don't have to. There's a saying here, "Turn around. Don't drown." Pretty sane advice. Be safe, folks and may God bless your Monday.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

My Story

Tonight was a tough night for me. Not because something bad happened, but actually, something good happened.

Our Worship Pastor, Marty, encouraged us to (paraphrasing here) feel our lyrics. We can sing and mimic all we want, but to engage those who are listening, we need to allow the lyrics to seep into us and pull out our story. Paraphrasing here, mind you. Then we went back over a song that we're singing on Sunday: *My Story by Big Daddy Weave. What happened next is nothing short of extraordinary, at least to me...because I allowed the words to be my story, and it was tough.

In order for you to understand what I'm saying, I'm going to incorporate the words of the song along with my testimony. So if the members of Big Daddy Weave are reading...thank you for sharing your story so I can share mine.

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn't let go

In January, it was thirty three years since my life changed. No, there was no traffic accident that marred me for life; no personal disaster such as a crippling disease; no death of a parent or loved one that so impacted me; no crime committed against me. No, a baby was born. Not your ordinary baby, but one who had gained my love and attention during the forty weeks while she was formed. During that forty weeks, I was able, through the miracle of technology, to hear her heartbeat and see her suck her thumb. My husband and I witnessed a miracle that we never thought would happen. On January 15, 1983, at 11:45 p.m., Andrea Michelle Lane was born. What we thought was a miracle quickly turned into the biggest challenge of my life and forever altered any dreams that I had for her. She was diagnosed with Down Syndrome, and sixteen hours later, the genetic markers were identified and we were hit with the confirmation. The pediatrician who was on duty came in and calmly and clinically proclaimed that we should put her in a home and forget about her. She would never walk, talk or do for herself. We were young and we would be able to have more children. If I had had two ounces of strength right then I would have decked him, yet instead I wept at the callousness of this man who had no idea who he was dealing with. It was then that I resolved that I would prove him wrong. Thirty three years later, I'm still doing that.

And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up

When we went home later that day, that is when the grieving really started. As I was adjusting to motherhood with the help of my mom and my wonderful mother-in-law, there were times that I would just stand in the shower and weep over the dreams lost. I would never see my baby grow up and do the things that "normal" kids would do. She would never have a first love, a high school sweetheart, a husband or a family. She would forever be with me, but I was determined that she would lead the most normal life that she possibly could.

The first three months of her life were wonderful. She was growing, although not as much as we had hoped, but she was growing, and she was healthy according to each and every doctor's visit that we had attended. Then one day in May, she had a fever of 103 that sent us to the hospital and back to the pediatrician that we spoke to the day she was born. I threw a major hissy fit and demanded that another doctor see my child. Since we lived in the small town of Helena, Montana, the total amount of pediatricians at the time were three. One was mine and she was out of town, another was out sick and then there was Dr. Killjoy (not his real name, obviously). I was stuck with him, but I advised him that if he chose to speculate on anything that was wrong with my child that I would immediately report him to the medical board.
They took x-rays to make sure that she didn't have pneumonia but instead found an enlarged heart. Once they were able to get an iv into her and put an EKG on her, that's when the nightmare began. The EKG showed an abnormality in her rhythm and a specialist was called in Salt Lake City. Based on the initial EKG she was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect. Later that month we went for the heart catheter, where the diagnosis was a PDA and an A-V canal, which in layman's terms meant that she had heart surgery in her future. The Patent Ductus ligation went well, although getting her prepped was difficult and getting her revived was difficult as well. We spent a full week in Salt Lake City for recovery. When we returned home, it was to a full regimen of exercises and programs designed to help her to gain weight and get her up to speed with other infants her age.

In June we hit another setback when one of her lungs collapsed. We spent a few days in the hospital at home while they worked on not losing her since she was still so small. Then later that summer we went back for the second heart catheter to determine when we should come back for the major heart work. We had to have her gain a few more pounds but her open heart surgery was scheduled for October 26th. That day, after what we thought was self-preparation on our parts, we were faced with what seemed like an impossible task; taking our baby girl to the door of the surgical suite. It was then that the realization of seeing our precious child alive again were 80/20 and we were advised because of her size, that we weren't to be overly optimistic. However, since we were dealing with the most skilled pediatric heart surgeons in the country at the time, the apprehension was only slightly eased. We were assured that the surgery would only take six hours....eight hours later we still had heard nothing, and all during that time I read the little Bible that my grandmother had given me, I'm sure not comprehending a single word.  Finally the surgeon came out and explained the delay. They had almost lost her getting her off of the heart/lung machine. Because her heart was so tiny the machine had difficulty making the proper adjustments and her heart had difficulty making the transition. Within an hour, we were able to go to the surgical room doors and follow her into the area where she would eventually spend the next ten days. I had not realized how pale she had been before because when I saw her emerging from surgery, aside from the myriad wires and monitors I found a wonderfully pink baby. How overjoyed I was at that even though I was very distressed over the equipment that made her look more machine than human.

Once she was settled in the ward where she was parked right by the nurses station, we were able to go in to be with her and to get the overview of the surgery and post op instructions. The next 24-48 hours were critical. Most of the next 24 hours found me at her bedside, talking to her and singing to her. When the nurses and our Moms finally convinced me the following day to get something to eat, I went with Mom and Mom to the cafeteria three floors down. Understand, I did not want to go and as soon as my hiney hit the stool, I heard the stat call for one of her surgeons. For the life of me, I do not remember touching one of the stairs that led to the third floor, opening the door just as the nurses put out the no admittance sign. When I asked if it was for Andrea, the nurse quietly nodded and led me to a small, dimly lit room and asked me to wait for her. As I looked around the room, I saw a pamphlet that said "what to do when your child dies". I was devastated and fell to my knees.

And if I told you my story
You would hear Life, but it wasn't mine

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

I cried and prayed and pleaded with God to spare my child. I asked Him to take me instead. I asked why He would give me this child only to take her away, then I pleaded with Him to come into my life to help me to help her. It was then that I accepted Christ into my life.

If I told you my story
You would hear victory over the enemy

 That was 2:22 p.m. on October 27, 1983. At 2:25 p.m., the nurse walked into the room to inform me that she was alright. They had given the stat call when her pressures fell and the alarms went off, not knowing that the surgeon was right there giving her CPR. They had not seen him come in and didn't see him because the curtain was in the way of that side of the bed. Her they could see clearly, they saw him not at all.

And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story
You would hear Life overcome the grave

Fast forward to today. Andrea is a happy, mostly healthy young woman. She has had her ups and downs. Her father and I split and eventually I met and married her Dad, Chris, who helped me to make sure that as best as we could that she would grow up as normal as possible. She attended some regular school classes along with the special education classes; when she went to high school, she was strictly special education because of the higher functioning nature of the population. During her growing up period she has been in Special Olympics and has received medals for track and field and two for bowling. She had attended three proms and one Sadie Hawkins dance with her Sister and her Sister's best friend. When she graduated, she walked across the stage with her class with thirty three credits, one more than was required to graduate, to the sound barrier breaking applause of the audience and her classmates. As for me, I cried tears of joy at the monstrous applause for my little Girl and for the task well done.

If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him

This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long

So, this is MY story...this is MY testimony. This is my love story from Jesus to me.

Be blessed, my Friends!

*My Story by Big Daddy Weave
Album: Beautiful Offerings 
Release date: 2015

Thursday, March 31, 2016

The most wonderful time of the year....NOT!

Yes...that's me...sarcasm at its best.
Let's forget that this is March 31st and tomorrow's April Fools Day. Let's forget that we're coming up on the deadline for income tax returns. Let's forget that insurance kicks in the first of the year and we're stuck with the choices we made only because we looked at the deductibles, co-pays and out of pocket expenses and not much else. Wait...let's not forget that one for now.
Let's forget that Punxuatany Phil, or however you spell the critter's name was right and spring has sprung.
Let's focus on something else. Like yellow crud everywhere. It infests your air ducts, spreads like gangrene on your car, leaves yellow running puddles when you water and sticks to black clothes like it was Velcro. Pollen. The yin and yang of Spring around here in Southeast Texas. On the one hand its great, it means the flowers are blooming, and so are the trees, grass and weeds...but it also means great allergies. Yeah. Hate that part.

So, speaking of Spring and pollen and...stuff, I also have to focus on the part about getting older. Oh yeah, I forgot about that in the "Let's forget" list. Another year older and parts are getting worn out. I remember a time when my Little was about three-ish. We were in a grocery store and behind a, shall we say, pretty rank, a little on the chubby side, older woman. And she was loud. Every step sounded like she stomped on a whoopee cushion. And my daughter was quite amused. And loud.
"Mom! That lady is farting!" Yup, let's die right in the middle of the aisle, because the lady stopped in her tracks and froze. Didn't move a muscle. I think she was hoping I'd either go around or leave the aisle. I had stuff to get behind her, it wasn't going to be a quick fix here. When she realized I was still behind her, she scurried, and farted, her way out of the aisle. Score one for the toddler and take one away from the Mom and old lady.

Now, I relate this story for a reason...hang in there, I'm getting to it.

In hindsight, that lady couldn't have been much older than I am now. Who knows what her medical conditions may have been then? I certainly don't. No, I don't engage in such activities, although if I did, I probably wouldn't divulge that information, but...Right now, here in the comfort of my own home, I can say that I truly can relate with a worn to speak. Coughing and sneezing are not my friends, if you catch my drift.

The other thing...for those who didn't know, I had a nasty panic attack the day before Valentine's Day. Panic attacks for me are, well, no biggie. You have it, it knocks you out from fighting it and you sleep half a day away, you're all better. But no...leave it to me to get one to make me go...hmm. Went straight up into my jaw. Now, you women out there should know that this is a potential warning sign of heart attack.This is female specific. Not that this is the case all the time, but it's one of them. Check out Web MD or the American Heart Association for all of the warning signs for women. Anyway, that scared the behoozits out of me and sent me into the hospital. A month and an aborted angiogram later, there still is no definitive reason why it did it. Did I have a heart attack? Nope. Everything came back clear. Except the insurance...((note: I'm really rolling my eyes. No, really I am)). This goes back to, "lets look at the deductibles and what's covered and sign the forms." Yup...not doing that again. Going to go over those forms this year with a fine-toothed comb and a high-powered magnifying glass. Needless to say, we aren't happy with the coverage, but we're stuck with it and have to bite the bullet.

I guess I'm getting at the fact that growing older is fraught with some interesting speed bumps that no one tells you about. Probably because they don't want to discourage you from it. Maybe they just want to walk behind you as you're doing your grocery shopping and laugh at you every time you take a step and you fart, which I doubt. Or maybe, just maybe they want you to understand that the human body, like everything else in Creation, comes with an expiration date. You know, the "Best if used by:" date we see on everything that comes packaged anymore. The cool thing would be, if someone would tell you what the first date was so that you could do more living before the expiration date came along.

The older folks also don't tell you about the memory thing, either. I guess either they deduced that you figured it out on your own already, or they forgot to mention it...I forgot where I was going with this point. Hmm...

Oh, and the driver's license thing. Now, some of us have decent ones that show a younger us. Lucky, huh? Yeah, not so much. When they look at your license and are just about to hand it back to you, but take it back for a second look, or third, or fourth. Annoyed comes to mind. Foot tapping. Name calling, although not out loud, but boy, are they getting a tongue lashing in your mind. "Is there a problem?" So polite, but inside you're seriously having an issue with their eyesight.
"No, Ma'am...but this doesn't look like you. I, I mean, it does, sorta, but it doesn't. You have some other form of i.d.?"
Are you kidding me? What other form of I.D. do I carry that has my picture on it? I pull out my AARP card.
"That doesn't have your picture on it, besides, they give these to everyone. I just got one in the mail the other day."
"What are you, all of twelve?" Of course, the kid looks at me and raises an eyebrow, certain I just insulted him, but still...
"I'm sorry, but unless you have another form of I.D., you can't buy this stuff."
Mumbling, I dig through my wallet and come up with my Medicare card. I slam it down on the counter (I realize about this time that my neutral face, which usually doesn't look amused at the world around it in the first place, just got more unamused looking, thus giving the kid pause and maybe even a bit of a scare), and ask if that will do. The kid's eyes brighten.
"Yeah, that will work. My Great Grandma has one of these. They only give them to old people."
Peachy....a comedian.


I wonder if I still have time to sign up to be a Golden Girl instead of a Rusty Relic. ;)

Remember what tomorrow is, don't get caught off guard or get recorded farting in the aisle of the store. Remember to get dressed before you go to Wally World, and have a giggle at your own expense if you do get caught in the tomfoolery. Have a great weekend, Y'all! **Weirdness turned off for the night...**

Monday, February 8, 2016

God? Why did You give me this heart?

You know, this is a question that I seem to ask a lot lately. Mostly to myself, but on a couple of occasions it's been out loud. God gave me the heart for the underdog, for the abused, for those rejected by society...doesn't matter if that individual is a human or an animal.

Every day I see at least one post showing an animal in distress. Usually, its more than five that I see in my timeline. At least twice a week, I see a child who has been abused or is gravely ill. About that many times a week there are posts about adults or seniors going through chemo treatments or are finding themselves at the end of their roads. Every once in a while I have a friend or two who are so deeply depressed that hope is something that everyone else has. No, its not one person in particular, there are many on my friends list that have depression and have shared via PM the pain they feel physically from the emotional pain of loneliness or depression.

And every single time, my heart breaks. I want to fix it. And every single time I ask God why He gave me this heart. Most times my hands are tied to fix the issue. For all of the needy animals out there that are without a home...I'm sorry. I wish and sometimes ask for the funds to fix your status, but my heart knows that even if you are saved, so many more will follow you. Its an endless cycle. I have rescued two of your buddies and they are here with me and my family and will live out their natural lives with me...farts, belches and all.

Little children, please know that I pray for each of you. I pray that you will be able to beat whatever has intruded on your lives and that you grow, and live and prosper. The ones who are abused, I pray that each of you will know that being beaten, being scared is not love. Its evil and hateful and I pray you are given the opportunity to know love in its purest form, with people who understand what you have gone through and who will help you through what you will endure while mentally and physically healing. I understand that not all of what was done to you can be healed by man, but God will have the final judgement on who did this to you. In the meantime, I pray that you have a family that wants you, that loves you, and cherishes you, unconditionally.

For those of you who are facing medical challenges, I pray for healing for you. For strength, for endurance, for peace knowing that God is with you before, now and at the end of your journey. Please know that. And for those who are ending their life's journey, I pray for a peaceful passing. That Jesus will be the One to guide you Home, where the body that is now deteriorating will be cast off and your new body will be given to from all disease, hurt and tears.

For those of you who suffer from depression, know that not only do I pray for you, but I am here to be a shoulder to cry on. A person to vent to. I will listen...I have big ears to hear and broad shoulders to lean your head on and cry...and my heart will be with you. You are my friends, my family and I would do you a huge disservice if I did not offer myself to you when you need to talk. Never, never lose hope. Never, never feel as if there is not one person out there who cares, because I am here. I have told you before and I'm telling you again. I AM HERE. No, I can't fix everything...I'm me, I'm not a doctor (to paraphrase Dr. McCoy), but I can listen, I can try to help if I can. If I can't, then I'll find someone who can, if you want me to. But I want you to know, before you even think you don't matter, that nothing matters anymore and no one cares, that if nothing or no one else does, I do, I care, and you matter to me.

I still wonder, I still ask why God gave me this heart. I don't have the answer to that, and I hope that when I get Home that God will show me the reason. In the meantime, I'm here if you need me.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

Oh my goodness! Where did the time go?

It's said that as you grow older that time seems to fly by. Maybe its a cruel joke or maybe its a merciful thing, I don't know. What I do know is that I've learned that if I don't make the most of every day, that I've missed out on that day's blessing, one that would never make an appearance again because it was unique for that time.

This year has been fraught with violence, threats, and fear and it seems to be getting worse, but...

But, there is so much more that is going on around us, and if we are not mindful of that fact, we will miss it. We will miss the blessings. We will miss life.

There's a song in the Christian community by Brandon Heath called Give me Your eyes. The chorus goes this way:

Give me Your eyes for just one second
 Give me Your eyes so I can see
 Everything that I keep missing
 Give me Your love for humanity 
Give me Your arms for the broken-hearted
 the ones that are far beyond my reach
 Give me Your heart for the ones forgotten
 Give me Your eyes so I can see.

I absolutely love that song, not because it's by Brandon Heath, who is one of my favorite artists, but because every time I hear it, it reminds me to look around and see what I might be missing.

If we allow the world and it's problems to cloud our eyes, to put blinders on us so that all we see is what it wants us to see, we miss the beauty of Creation. We miss the beauty that rises from the ashes.
We miss the ability to show the world that Christians are more than a building, more than a religion, more than Westboro Church and others like them. We miss the chance to show the world the love of God that dwells in us through His Son Jesus Christ and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

That small voice that you just ignored telling you to turn around? You just missed an opportunity to help an elderly person with the bag of groceries that just spilled on the ground. That slight nudge you just felt was the smile that you needed to give someone who desperately needed to see something pleasant instead of the unpleasantness they'd been experiencing.

This is the day that Christians around the world celebrate the birth of Jesus. Was it actually the day He was born? Probably not, but its the day that history has set aside for Him. We celebrate God Incarnate, Immanuel, God with us. Jesus who left all of the riches of the Universe to become Man, live a sinless life, who told the world for three years of God and His love for fallen Man. He was tortured beyond what is humanly possible, crucified and died on a Roman cross. He who did not sin, took on the sins of the world, past, present and future. He was buried in a borrowed rich man's tomb, but did not stay there! He rose again and preached the Good News for forty days, then He ascended to the right hand of God where He stands to this day, waiting for God to tell Him its time to bring the redeemed Home. And all we have to do is accept a gift.

What an appropriate thing to get at this time of year! We exchange gifts with those we love, those we respect and sometimes just because we pulled a name out of a hat. Well, God has a gift that is available year-round...its the gift of Salvation. God offers to us this gift with no strings attached...we don't have to straighten out our lives, do good works or go to church to receive it. All we have to do is ask Jesus to forgive us for our sins and repent. We have to believe that He lived, died and rose again, and then ask Jesus to come into our hearts. The Bible says if we do these things that we are now a new Creation, saved by grace. God comes to us, filthy habits, dirty rags and all and offers us a Kingdom that will never end and we have a choice. We can ignore the gift, thinking it has strings attached, or we can accept it humbly and experience the knowledge that we are now a Child of the King.

Does that mean we will have a primrose path? No, but it will mean that the path that we were on will change. That we will see the things that we were missing. That we will have a heart for the lost, the weak, the poor, the orphans and widows. We will have the eyes to see the things we can change and have the will to make the change or at least start it.

Now the choice is yours. Will you accept the Gift of Salvation that God offers to you or will you choose to leave it? Whatever your decision, I pray that your Christmas will be a beautiful one, full of love, friends, and family. I pray that you will experience joy, laughter and love and for the coming year of 2016, I pray that it will be a year to remember and that it will be blessed beyond belief.

Merry Christmas, my friends, and a Happy New Year.