I Blog For Books

21 August 2009

Seventy Two Hours

In just under seventy two hours, Fall semester 2009 begins at Wallace Community College. This is the beginning of my fourth semester of nursing school, and one step closer to achieving my goal of graduating in May 2010.

Most of us have grown up with the television classic "60 Minutes." In less than an hour, we receive succinct and timely narrations of current issues of interest. The news program "48 Hours" has a slightly different focus. It is now "48 Hours/Mystery". Both are viewed on CBS. If you add the two together, it equals 72 hours. Much can happen in that time span.

Did you know that many survival experts recommend a "72 hour kit?" What, you ask, is a 72 hour kit? In case of a disaster, a 72 hour kit may mean the difference between life and death. The past few years have shown us just how important emergency preparedness is. From Katrina to the local spring flooding, it has been brought home in a sometimes painful way. If disaster strikes, would you be prepared?

First and foremost, I am no expert. Like most, I am fairly proficient with a computer search engine, however. When the "72 hours" stuck in my head today as I was thinking about the start of the upcoming semester, I decided to search that phrase and see what came up. The very first thing my search engine returned was 72 Hour Kits/Home Security. Because my curiosity was peaked, I read on.

What would you need to survive for 72 hours (three days)? We see it flashing on the tv screens more frequently these days due to hurricane season: water! Humans need water to survive, and this particular site recommends 1-2 gallons per day per person for your kit. The list goes on, and is pretty much common sense. Think about it: what would you need if you were away from everything for 3 days? Toiletries, changes of clothing, medications, entertainment (think books, puzzles), and food. Remember the last time we had severe weather warnings? If you were at Walmart, you realize just how many people leave things until the last minute. If you don't think so, try to buy batteries, bottled water, or toilet paper during a state of weather emergency. Are you prepared?

When Jesus returns, we won't have 72 hours. It will be much like a tornado, here then gone, touching down to retrieve His children and leaving nonbelievers behind. Preparation for His return is vital, because the Bible tells us that we don't know when He is coming, simply to be ready. It might seem difficult or complicated, but it is not. How do you prepare for Jesus' return?

Believe and accept that Jesus is your Lord and Savior and your ticket home to heaven. Why? Because He is. In John 14:6, Jesus states it simply and clearly: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father except through me." Get your Heaven kit ready. Call on Jesus today, accept and believe, and be prepared for whatever tomorrow may bring.

"No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father ... Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come ... So you must also be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him."~Matthew 24:36,42,44NIV

20 August 2009

Greenie Fight Never Dies!

Last year, I was privileged to be a part of a special occasion in my (then) boyfriend's life. June 2008 was his 30th class reunion, and it was the culmination of a week-long vacation in Texas. I was excited for more than one reason: I was meeting the family (his), meeting the friends from high school (most of whom he had not seen in 20 years or more), and returning to Texas! When he told me where he had graduated from high school, my first thought was "What??" Rob graduated Class of 1978 from SOUTH PARK HIGH SCHOOL, Beaumont, Texas.

Absolutely nothing like the fictitious South Park of Cartoon Network fame, South Park High School served the South Park neighborhood of Beaumont. This classic building stands 3 stories high, is constructed of red brick, and has a sweeping stairway going up to the front doors that face Highland Avenue. Not necessarily large by high school standards, during Rob's tenure at SPHS, there were approximately 800-900 students in grades 9-12. Compare that to Dothan High or Northview and SPHS is quite a bit smaller. Consider, however, that Beaumont had seven high schools in the late 70's.

SPHS was built in the early 1900's, and its first graduating class was the class of 1915. Some 71 years later, SPHS would see the last class of senior high school students exit its doors when the class of 1986 finished their four years. The 1986-1987 school year saw it become South Park Middle School, and today the fight is on to keep this amazing part of Beaumont's educational history alive. I don't know all the reasons behind the planned destruction of this building, but what I do know of SPHS is what amazes me.

Imagine my surprise when we enter this semi-formal event and are greeted by the silent-yet-screaming presence of the school mascot "Sparky." Standing even taller than my 6'3" boyfriend, Sparky proudly wears the school colors (kelly green and white) and is the cause of more than one smile that evening. What stands out most in my memories of this part of our trip is the camaraderie and genuine caring I recognized between the classmates spread across the country from Alaska (Tommy Morris) to Alabama (Rob). Many still live in their home state of Texas, although very few at all live in the South Park neighborhood in which they grew up. This once thriving, vibrant community is now but a shell of its former self.

Take a minute to reflect on your high school days. Have you attended any reunions? Do you plan to? Why or why not? What would you feel if your school was slated for destruction? I never attended South Park High, never even lived in Beaumont, but I am saddened at the potential loss of history. There are many factors that will be taken into consideration before the judge makes his final decision as to the fate of SPHS. We may or may not ever know what those factors are. Regardless of the outcome, the Greenie spirit that lives in the former students is a wonderful thing to behold.

The sun that sets
may never rise
but Greenie fight
never dies!


What spirit shows in you? Are you as proud of Jesus as you are of the car you drive, the house you live in, or even the school you attended? I'm relatively certain He doesn't care if you don't have a bumper sticker that shouts "GO JESUS!", but what screams are heard when you open your mouth? Even more important, what is heard when you say nothing at all?

Try not to be the careless driver who was pulled over by the policeman on traffic duty. When she belligerently questioned his reasons for stopping her, he replied: "You ran a stop sign while traveling 10 mph above the speed limit, talking on your cell phone and not wearing your seat belt. You flipped off the last person you passed, and questioned my heritage when I asked for your license and registration. The bumper sticker on the back of your car says 'Honk if you love Jesus.' I thought the car was stolen." (anonymous)

Lord, help me to make the most of each day. Help me think before I speak. Better yet, keep your hand on my shoulder so you are close enough to clap it over my mouth if necessary!

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."~John 15:12-13 NIV





19 August 2009

The Library is Your Friend

On Sunday, August 16, Mrs. Brenda Watson passed away. In my school days (the 70s and 80s), Mrs. Watson was a smiling fixture in the library at Cottonwood High School, and back in those school days, she was called the librarian. I think these days, they are media center specialists or something like that, but Mrs. Watson was definitely not your typical librarian.

Make no mistake, just because she was totally different from our previous librarian (Mrs. Windsor), that did not mean that she took her job less seriously ... far from that. She was a veritable wealth of knowledge on books, authors, and writing! She also maintained a pretty tight ship when it came to her library, there was no horseplay or loud noise allowed.

I have not been back to CHS in years, probably more than 20 years now. At that time, the library was in the center of the main hall across from the principal's office. It was a wonderful part of the original school structure, with high windows and varied shelf heights. The stage was in the library, with its maroon velvet curtains that seemed to be 20 feet tall. There was a little hallway when you first entered the library, and a closet to the left about midway down that hall. If you kept walking straight in, the first section of books you would come to was the junior section. It was wonderful to be old enough to check books from there! It was home to biographies in blue bindings - I read stories of Juliette Low, Abraham Lincoln, and Helen Keller. I followed in the detective steps of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys.

The center section that ran parallel to the main hall outside was a short section of shelves and was home not only to the elementary books (we were GROWN when we didn't have to check from there anymore!), but also to the reference books and encyclopedias. Research papers were done painstakingly by hand in those days, and you knew for sure that the school would have more than one set of encyclopedias. It was also a good bet that they did not have the same Funk & Wagnalls set that you had at home. There were dictionaries, works of fiction, and even magazines!

What's in your personal library? Do you have one? I confess. I am a bookaholic. I have books in almost every single room of my house, and yes, that is books plural. They are filling the bookshelves, stacked on the floor, on the bedside tables (both sides!), and in boxes not yet unpacked. If I were to count every book in my house, it would literally take days. I could call myself a collector (I am), but truth be told, I just simply love books. I love to read.

I could not even begin to list the books I have read in my lifetime, there are far too many. I feel blessed in that my children have the same love for reading. What you read, however, can be as important as how much you read. I read just about anything, and yes, I have read the entire Bible. Like music, books have the ability to take you places you may never otherwise have the opportunity to go. When I read, I am a part of the book!

If you don't like to read, find something that interests you. Start small. There is a reason books for young children are short: so is their attention span! If you are not a fan of reading, by all means don't pick up a Bible concordance to work your way through! Choose a book of the Bible instead. What did the pastor speak on last Sunday? Did that sermon strike a nerve? Do you want to know more about where his ideas came from? Read that book of the Bible. Read a Psalm, or read the first book of Genesis and be amazed all over again at the creation. In 31 verses, you can see our world created.

God, I thank you for the love of reading. I thank you for the encouragement I have received throughout my life that fostered that love. Thank you for blessing me with the presence of a wonderful librarian, Mrs. Watson, who was part of that encouragement, and with parents who loved to read. Thank you for allowing that blessing to overflow to my children and grandchild. May I continue to be able to share that love through the written and spoken word.

RIP Mrs. Brenda Joyce Watson.

"Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near."~Revelation 1:3 NIV

17 August 2009

Don't Fear The Reaper

So here we go again with music, and what comes next on the playlist is Blue Oyster Cult's 1976 hit "Don't Fear the Reaper." Written by lead guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser, it appeared on the Agents of Fortune album, and peaked at #12 on the American charts. Like many of the songs I've covered in past devotions, this one set my mind to wandering, so I searched out the lyrics to see if they were indeed something that would spark a thought train.

Like many people, I hum along when I don't know the words. There are millions of songs out there, and Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper" is one from my teen years that I knew but didn't know (knew the tune and a few of the words). I was rather amazed when I read the lyrics. If you're familiar with them, indulge me and follow along:

All our times have come

Here, but now there, gone

Seasons don't fear the reaper

Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain

(we can be like they are)

The first and most obvious thought is that the song refers to death (the reaper), and maybe it does. As the song continues, it tells of a "love of two, now one" and that she feels she just can't go on. Often, interpretations of songs that refer, even in passing, to death are misconstrued by many as to glorifying death or suicide. When asked, songwriter Roeser denied such an interpretation. He says "I was actually kind of appalled when I first realized that some people were seeing it as an advertisement for suicide or something that was not my intention at all ... It's basically a love song where the love transcends the actual physical existence of the partners."

I've said before, and will say again now, interpretations are as individual as those who have them. Mine is mine, and just because yours is different, it does not mean that either of us are wrong. How I chose to interpret this song is as eternal love. Reread the lyrics for the first verse. The seasons don't fear the reaper. Well, if you say that the reaper is Jesus, why would they fear Him? He created them! I don't fear Jesus as reaper either ... because He created me! When he comes to gather me home, I will happily go along with Him! (reaper: defined as one that reaps. reap: defined as to gather, or take) We CAN be like they are, creations of our Lord! Instead of interpreting the lyrics as a thing of death or sadness, look at them as a thing of joy.

Came the last night of sadness

And it was clear she couldn't go on

Then the door was open and the wind appeared

The candles blew and then disappeared

The curtains flew and then he appeared

(Saying "Don't be afraid")

When you are in the depths of your darkest hour, ask Jesus to come. HE WILL APPEAR!! With Him in your life and heart, there is no reason to fear! When you ask Him, HE WILL COME. Is not that the most amazing and wonderful thing?

Jesus, I thank you for the beauty and wonder that is your eternal love. For the blessings you freely bestow upon my undeserving self, I offer humble praise. May I always have the opportunity to pay them forward!

"However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace."~Acts 20:24 NIV

15 August 2009

All The Lonely People

I love music. It can say so many things. There are lyrics out there that can astound you with their amazing simplicity. The writer's intent may never be known, for my interpretation of a song may be different from yours, and may be a world away from what its creator had in mind when pen hit paper.

One of my favorite things to do on Saturday nights is listen to Allen's show on WOAB. Tonight, like most Saturdays, he's the music playing on my computer. The banter of a radio personality is more fun when you actually know the deejay, because instead of a voice behind a microphone, it's Allen doing what he loves. When I requested he play something for me, he complied. Much to my surprise, I didn't hear the peppy Partridge Family, Jay and the Americans, or even the never-fails-to-make-me-smile Randy and the Rainbows. What came across the speakers instead was a tune that made me stop, tilt my head in puzzlement, and listen to the lyrics.

This is for all the lonely people
Thinking that life has passed them by
Don't give up until you drink from the silver cup
And ride that highway in the sky

America? I like the band, but why did he play that song, and why now? Suddenly, listening to these lyrics, it hit me. There was meaning behind these words. We have all been there, or at least most of us have: feeling like life has passed us by. Don't give up!! Why not? Because there is hope. There is an answer.

I don't know what was going through the minds of Daniel and Catherine Peek when they penned this tune for 1975's History album, but some 34 years later as I sit and listen to the timeless words my thoughts are spinning. How do I put these thoughts down so that they make sense? The way I normally do: close my eyes, take a deep breath, say a short prayer, open my eyes and begin to type.

Even though I have had times in my life when I wondered if it was truly worth opening my eyes one more time, I guess I never let go of God, because He always intervened and dropped a picture that made me realize just what I had to live for. When I felt like giving up, He showed me just why I could carry on. Close your eyes, but don't give up. Give over.

Give over your concerns and troubles to Jesus. He is far stronger and more capable than we can ever hope to be. What is a crushing weight to me is but a feather to Him. Realize that He can empower you far beyond whatever you could possibly imagine, and come home.

Well, I'm on my way
Yes, I'm back to stay
Well, I'm on my way back home

I am on my way, and to stay this time. Is it not amazing that the distance we wander is minimal when we ask Jesus to bring us home? I am on my way back home. God, thank you for causing my ears to hear what you were telling me this evening. Thank you for prompting Allen to play that song. Please continue to guide my words to honor you.

"Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you."~Mark 5:19 NIV


14 August 2009

Healthcare

There is much controversy surrounding the proposed government healthcare plan, and there are as many opinions on it as there are individuals who wish to talk about it. This is not related to that healthcare, although I cannot be dishonest and tell you that I agree with it because I do not. I believe it is in the best interests of all of us for the government to stay out of it. That, however, is my opinion.


When someone says 'healthcare,' what comes to mind? Other than the aforementioned controversial proposal winding its way through our elected guardians, I can safely venture a guess and say that many of us would think our own personal well being and how we take steps (or not) to maintain that state. Currently, we have a plan at work known as Wellness Works. It is optional for those who participate in the insurance plan, but has many benefits. One such benefit is coaching. If you agree to participate, you work with a wellness coach to make changes to your life that will affect your health in a positive manner (i.e.. lose weight, quit smoking). This benefit affords you a lower insurance premium. If, however, your coaching has not resulted in the positive change of your choice (you lost a certain number of pounds), your insurance premium will go up for a year while you work on it once more. My choice? To lose weight.

Most of you know me, and you know that I love food. Not like food ... LOVE food. The amount of weight that I was required to lose on this program was minimal, and I have had a year to lose it. Have I lost the required weight? No. Why? I wish I had a simple answer. Earlier in the year, I participated in the Weight Watchers program with some success. I lost 18 pounds! That would have more than met my goal for Wellness Works for the year ... had I maintained that loss. Now, I have to take off that weight (again!), and probably more, by November 3 to keep my lower insurance premium. If I do not meet my goal (did I mention the goal was of my own choosing??), the premium goes up.

Look inward. What is the state of your spiritual health? Are there positive changes that could be made? You have a ready made wellness coach (Jesus), who is always at the head of the class, yet by your side every single step of the way. He has words of encouragement, signs of progress, and bountiful harvests with which to reward you. Why is it so difficult to turn yourself over to His loving care?

The most difficult part of my own spiritual healthcare plan is time. You may not have that issue. It is not having time available, it is making time available. The minutes I spend writing this devotion are dedicated to Him, for I ask His guidance to make the words flow in such a way that they will touch those who receive them. Do I make time for Him during my day otherwise? I am honest enough to say not always, and not nearly enough. God deserves more than the "Lord help me" we all throw heavenward. When you sit down to read, what are you reading? I understand that there are work or school related things that you must read. Funnily enough, God understands that as well. I sat on my couch earlier today and finished reading a novel. I could have easily taken at least a part of that same time and read my bible. I have not yet done so today.

Who suffers? I do. By not making time to improve my spiritual health, I believe that I run the risk of putting my physical health in jeopardy. When I am at peace, my physical self reflects that. When I am stressed, my physical self reflects that agitated state. I owe it to myself to place the same importance on my spiritual health as I do on my physical health. This is my challenge: Look at your spiritual health. Is it where you want it to be? If not, work with your personal wellness coach. Jesus will clearly outline your path, and guide you every step of the way. Here's to better health - physical, mental, spiritual - for all of us.

Jesus, I need your help and guidance. Thank you for giving me the words to write and the ideas to flow. Please continue to lay your hand upon me in this ministry. Please help me, and help my friends, that we encourage one another to grow in You.

"Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path."~~Psalm 119:105 KJV