Monday, November 24, 2014

Full of Thanks

Dear Family and Friends,

Full of thanks, how I hope so!!! If not thankfulness what might we be filled with in the daily circumstances of life?

It would be easy to fall into the trap of being full of bitterness, resentment, and regret. Bitter as in thinking our life is not as ”perfect” as another's that’s looking better, regretful as in thinking our kids don’t… or do…., angry that God isn’t fair. I smile at this, as if we humans could be God’s scorekeepers.

After enjoying many Thanksgiving celebrations now I’ve learned thankfulness is a daily resolution, a mind-set to help us rise up when the not-so-nice or just plain awful stuff happens to us. As well as a gulp of awe when amazing good enters our personal world.

Thankfulness includes my husband’s skin cancer of his lower lip that required three surgeries over the last three weeks including plastic reconstructive surgery. We didn’t like the chill that ripped over us when he heard the C-word, but the blessed hands that ministered to Wayne, the gracious, tender medical care he received were a joy to behold. Thanks be to God, he’s cancer free and looks normal again.

Our thankful attitude was challenged less dramatically by our kitchen sink and faucet hitting beyond repair status. Instead of just being "oh no something else on the list to deal with" this turned into a delightful encounter with the plumber who arrived to install the new one.  Our conversation went like this:

Plumber: “Lady your garbage disposal is old, it’s probably not going to work or be a tight fit after I disconnect it and reinstall. I’m just telling you I can’t warrant it and your counter top looks like it will crack when I take out the old one. I’ll do my best but I’m letting you know in advance plus if I have to enlarge the opening it’s another $75.
Me: “Okay, go ahead. I’ll pray it goes well.”
Plumber: “For this you better go to church to pray. You’ve got old pipes under here.”
Me: Laughing. “God is everywhere even in my kitchen.”
Plumber afterward: “I’m really surprised how well that went.”
Me: Smiling. “I told you prayer works. God cares about everything even my sink.”

But best of all, I also had a chance to talk this kind young plumber briefly about his wife studying to be a nurse and his five--year-old daughter. And give him a paper copy of my Emotional Intimacy Reviver Tool of questions for close conversation so he and his wife can grow their marriage strong. (It's free on my website. Click here to print out a copy.

Would I have believed God was responsive even if my husband’s body wasn’t cancer-free again and the sink install wasn’t so smooth ? Actually yes. Thanksgiving comes from learning to trust God has a plan and purpose in all things which ultimately work together for our good. I’ve had a full lifetime of witnessing this.

WE/I receive huge benefit from being thankful. Is this why the Scripture verse “In everything give thanks to God for that is the will of God in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess. 5: 18 is included in the Bible? At first it doesn’t seem to make sense. Everything? Isn’t this a doozy to meditate on. Yes it’s true, accept what can't be changed, yet it doesn't mean we don't take action to right obvious wrong.

Blessed Happy Thanksgiving this Thursday and every day of your life. This is our wish for you, for all of us, as we appreciate God’s creation of turkeys and celebrate being with people we love who enrich our world. 

(Dan's wife Stephanie shot this picture three days ago of a fun Saturday night game night. We do love our board games!)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Who Decides?

I find it scary that the older brother of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a physician, an oncologist and bioethicist is publicly stating that people should die by age 75! That’s even lower than the age 85 horror I describe in my suspense novel Directive 99.

The Chicago Tribune, Wed. Nov. 12, 2014 states Emanuel declared in the October issue of the Atlantic magazine that our consumption (of earth’s resources) must be worth our contribution. What!! Shades of Nazi Germany again. Also Emanuel believes people become less creative as they age. He even says that he wants to die at age 75.

It’s begun! The public argument to end the life of our elderly before their natural death! And it’s coming from a politician who was a health policy advisor to the White House in the design of the Affordable Care Act commonly called Obamacare, a so-called doctor who disregards his code of ethics!

Doctors within the American Medical Association have expressed their anger against Emanuel saying he violated their code of ethics by suggesting that human life becomes less valuable with age.

A drive to say life is not of value after a certain age is pure wrong, incredibly evil and totally contrary to respecting God’s plan for each life. Can you imagine persuading elderly citizen to believe that they’ve lived long enough by the time they’re 75 and deserve to die?

If you haven’t read Directive 99 I suggest you get a copy fast. Gift copies to your legislators. Be prepared for the coming push to make this horror a reality. It’s not just euthanasia, horrible as that is. It’s a push to convince older people that they are not worthy and valuable.

God determines birth and death. And every breath every person takes has meaning in some way in our present environment. An important role for the elderly may be to heighten compassion in those privileged to be caregivers.

As for Emanuel’s argument about diminished creativity in the elderly:
Wikipedia has this to say about "Grandma Moses," a renowned American folk artist. “Having begun painting in earnest at the age of 78, she is often cited as an example of an individual successfully beginning a career in the arts at an advanced age. Her works have been shown and sold in the United States and abroad and have been marketed on greeting cards and other merchandise. Moses' paintings are among the collections of many museums. The Sugaring Off was sold for US$1.2 million in 2006.”

A New York Times article (March 2, 1981) says creativity and old age are not mutually exclusive. Sophocles wrote ''Oedipus at Colonus'' at the age of 89, and Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes began the study of Greek at the age of 92 because, as he said, ''When else would I have had the time to take it up?''

Let’s look at the scientific facts about aging:
Among the mentally alert and healthy elderly, recent cognitive studies have shown that intelligence among the aged does not inevitably decline, said Harry R. Moody, deputy director of the Brookdale Center. ''In some areas,'' Dr. Moody said, ''as in tests measuring insight into problem situations, in creative understanding, and metaphoric processing, older people show actual statistical gains.''

The aging brain: Why getting older just might be awesome is another fascinating article about the treasure within the elderly mind. Google Amanda Enayati, Special to CNN updated 11:11 AM EDT, Tue June 19, 2012. Amanda concludes by stating, “The true picture of healthy, productive aging is so much more interesting and complex than any of us can begin to imagine.”

“There are neuro-circuitry factors that can favor age in terms of innovation,” observes Dr. Gary Small, professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Center on Aging. “First there is empathy, the foundation of a human-centered design process. Empathy is critical to design because of the need to understand the people for whom you are designing. Older people have a greater capacity for empathy because empathy is learned and refined as we age. As we age, we are better able to anticipate problems and reason things out than when we were young.” Small's research shows that our complex reasoning skills continue to improve as we get older.

In the UK the Baring Foundation believe that there is intrinsic value in engaging the talent, experience and enthusiasm of older people in the creative arts and the pursuit of cultural activities. Their work in the UK with the elderly and the arts is amazing.

This is a conversation we all need to be having. Let us protect our gifted and vulnerable senior population.

 I was invited to speak at Golden Years Retirement Center last week about my new novel Bullet in the Night. The ladies were delightful!

 Genesis 17:1 When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless."