"Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary use words." - St. Francis of Assisi

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

What really drives you nuts? I mean, the primal screaming, pigeon kicking, crazy as a loon, toss the computer out the window kind of stuff. Your co-worker is always tapping his pen on his desk, constantly, all day. Your spouse whistles those monotone and no tune sounds while watching television, eating their nightly ice cream, all the time. Your children’s shoelaces are two different colors and are not even tied that well, and they are on the way to church, or school, or a wedding, they don’t care.

I have written before that most acronyms can cover me – OCD, ADD, NCD, SAD, and just plain ODD. The little things that drive me nuts are things like a cabinet door being ajar, someone rubbing the dog’s fur the wrong direction, children who don’t keep their socks pulled up, not having your paper clips separated by jumbo and regular, and on it goes.

Why do we do this? Why do we let these little things bug us when things so much bigger are going on around us? I figure that there is not much I can do to stop the wars around the world. I cannot cure cancer, AIDS or other serious diseases. My mind cannot even comprehend the magnitude of a tsunami, so how can I do anything about one occurring? Heck, I still get lost when I circle the square trying to head out to Lake Dow, and I’ve lived in Henry County for over a decade. So, I guess I let myself worry about the little things that I can handle.

Recently, I found a couple of new scriptures to me that let me see that God was thinking about the ‘small stuff’ way back before I was even around. In Job, we are told “He makes small the drops of water that fall from the clouds as rain.” Bear with me as you imagine what God’s thought must have been. Suppose instead of making the drops of water small (i.e.; raindrops), that rain would fall from the clouds as one huge drop all at one time. Which would you prefer? The gentle pitter-patter of small raindrops or the SPLAT of one huge drop hitting your roof.

The Psalmist also wrote that “I slept, and then I awakened, sustained by God.” We tend to make the assumption that when we sleep that the natural progression is to wake up the next morning. However, once again I see that it is all part of God’s plan that we sleep, then we waken…. if it be part of God’s plan.

So, I figure that God has already figured out the small things of life, so I don’t need to sweat about those. The bigger things I cannot change alone, but the greater community can make change through our votes, through our charitable giving or by our volunteer efforts. Repeat once again, volunteer efforts. As I see it, volunteer efforts are the way Christ wanted Christians to work here in this world. Going about doing good work, helping those in need, giving a smile and encouragement to those who need it, and just taking care of each other without expectation of compensation or receiving something in return.

Don’t sweat the small stuff; God has those under control. Spend your time here on earth doing for others as God asks us to do.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Update on my Dad

It's been a rough couple of days, my friends. The toughest I've ever been through. In my last post, I mentioned that my dad had emergency surgery and was going into rehabilitation. The surgery he had was for a subdural hemotoma, which meant that his skull was full of blood and fluid causing his brain to be turned and pressed against the side of his skull with such pressure he was temporarily losing some abilities like speech, vision and most movements. The surgery relieved the pressure and he began to wake up and become more aware of his surroundings after a few days. The doctors told us that in older people (he is 83), that as the brain shrinks that the veins and capillaries become tightly stretched between the brain and skull and with some types of movements, they can begin to leak or completely break, causing the problem my dad had. Plus, the likelihood of recurrence was great.

And it did. Two days ago, my dad began to slip into a coma and was rushed from the rehab center back to the hospital ICU during the early hours of this morning. By the time my mother, brother, sister and I arrived at the hospital, the doctors had done another CT scan and once again the skull was full and the brain under much pressure and stress.

With much tears and prayers, and considering the fact he already is dealing with multiple myeloma, we chose to not put my dad through another surgery and to leave him in God's hands for what time he has left with us, which should be just a few weeks or months. He would not have the life of quality and activity which he thrived on and would be way too miserable (and cranky with us) for allowing this to happen. His quality life will now be with God and in His Heavenly home with his parents and sister who have gone before.

Tomorrow we will begin looking into a couple specific hospices which are close to home so that Mom will not be able to go back and forth without much hassle.

I wish the news were better. As the oldest son, I have had a hard day of reflection of things past and things yet to come. My nature is to be strong and not let the emotions show so that I can help the rest of the family in their need. I have always seen that as my role as the oldest child, but that role is being shaken by the events of today and of days to come.

My family will be fine. We are sorry for what has transpired and for what appears to be an inevitable outcome, but we also believe that God can perform miracles in His time and for His purposes. We have the Hope that even though we do not understand that 'the peace of God will surpass all human understanding".

As I can, I'll keep things updated on here about my dad, but I'll still be posting some lighter fare along. But, for now, I thank you in advance for your prayers, your thoughts of good will, whatever your faith system allows.


Friday, July 14, 2006

The Great Equalizer

There are few things in life that put all people on the same level of play. There are pro athletes, good athletes and pathetic athletes (my category). Upper, middle and lower economic levels; people who wear Prada and those who wear Wal-Mart; there are bosses and worker bees; and on it goes. Very few situations can bring all these diverse groups into an equality of being. One of these situations is the hospital emergency room and waiting rooms.

My dad recently had a health emergency and was rushed to the emergency room of an area hospital. Our family spent several anxious hours in the ER waiting room, the surgical waiting room and then almost a week in the ICU waiting room. Now, Dad is in a rehabilitation center and on the slow road to recovery. However, one thing I noticed over the past week is that the hospital ER and ICU will put everyone on an equal basis. This dawned on me as I was sitting next to a very professional appearing lady in designer clothes, hair styled perfectly and subtle (yet very classic) jewelry. As for myself, I had on my normal uniform of ratty cargo shorts, flip-flops, totally out of place hair and a t-shirt for some 5K road race that I bought at the thrift store.

For those of you who have been through such, you know that after a period of time, you begin talking to people in the lobbies, waiting rooms, cafeterias and hallways of the hospital. These are people you have never seen or known before, but you have the commonality that a loved one is sick and in need of care by you and the healing professionals. You share stories and experiences, scriptures, prayers and after a few hours and days you realize how much alike we are and that we also have a concern for these other people. We have family and friends that we care about and worry when they are sick or hurt. At those times, we will reach out to others in our need for comfort and the human touch…. no matter how well you play sports, what label is on your clothes, how large your house and what you do for a living. My family has experienced this over the past week.

There is another Equalizer that we will all have to encounter someday. That equalizer is God. If you have read much of my work, you know that one of my big soapboxes is that of acceptance of all people regardless of any characteristics different than our own, either outward or inward. The God I know and attempt to serve is a God who sees ALL people as equal and He wants us to see them the same way. In the final days, it does not matter whether we have a huge house or a doublewide on a dirt road. Nor does it matter whether we go to church in a gorgeous state-of-the-art building or gather with believers in a home or storefront in the local strip mall. All that matters to God, the great Equalizer, is that we love Him, love each other and treat all peoples with respect. Friends, I urge you to not spend the days we have here on earth expending the energy to judge and avoid others who appear to be different than us. When it all comes down to the basics, we're all the same.

In closing, I would like to thank all health professionals from doctors and nurses, residents and interns, lab technicians, housekeeping and volunteers. Your smiles and the pats on the shoulder make a huge difference. You are not simply in a career; you have been called to service.

And for today my friends, this has been the gospel according to Jimmy.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Staying Sane in a Crazy World

It's rare that I will post something that is not original to me, however, in cleaning out desk drawers today I came across the following article. At the time several years ago, it spoke volumes to me and still does today. For some reason, it seemed to be that it needed to be shared with you.

The below are excerpts from an article by Joe Murray, published in the Atlanta Journal a number of years ago.

"There are health rules for your head as well as for your body. We begin with the premise that the hardest things are the simplest things. Therefore, all can be summed up in a simple sentence: Tell the Truth.

Yep, that's it. But let me quote further:

Basically, the roots of mental health are honesty, directness and lack of deceit in what we do, what we say and what we believe. If that is not precise enough for you, let me brief it up:

Don't worship the wrong gods, particularly man-made images of such; don't use God's name vilely; pick you a Sabbath day and keep it; respect your parents; don't kill, run around on your spouse, steal or lie; don't lust for what others have.

Granted, that's hard to remember, simple though it is. Heaven knows, I forget from time to time. But, if you can just love God and love your fellow man, all else will fall into place - as opposed to falling to pieces.

And that in a, pardon the expression, nutshell is my psychiatrist's own personal No-Pest Strip for keeping the bats out of the belfry."

Okay, back to me.....isn't this well said? I am certainly aware that many mental and emotional conditions are a result of physical circumstances and may require some medication or counseling. As one who has suffered from generalized anxiety disorder for over twenty years, take daily medication and at various times during that period have required counseling help, I can certainly attest to the physical side. HOWEVER, so much of our own mental and emotional health depends on our relationship with God. Joe Murray summed it up so well in those phrases - "Tell The Truth" and "Love God and your fellow man".

From the Word of God -

"Let your 'Yes, be Yes' or your 'No, be No'; anything beyond this is evil."(Matthew 5:37)

"Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God and the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength." (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

Be God's, my friends, and go in His Love each day.