As my son, John, approached his 16th birthday, he was actively shopping for his first vehicle. One day a friend of his called him and said, "Hey, you've got to take a look at this 1966 Ford truck. It doesn't run, but it can be fixed up and you can get it for a steal." The next day John and his friend (who happened to be his former grade school principle) came home towing "Old Red." It needed paint; it needed repairs to the engine; it needed repairs to the bed; but together John and Mr. Flurry worked on this old truck. Then one day, John came running into the house shouting, "It's running! It's running!" Though it still needed a lot of work, together they had got the truck running. But that was only the beginning. Over the years, as time and money have allowed, John has continued to repair, fix-up and restore that truck. John is now in his 30's and "Old Red" is still a work in progress...
Sam, my grandson, was so excited. About a year ago he developed an interest in archery and began "shooting" regularly at a local archery range. Recently he got his first bullseye. He had come close many times, but this time he hit the target right in the center. He didn't do this by closing his eyes and hoping; he did it by learning to take aim. It is a timely lesson as we consider, "What will we aim for, for 2020?"...
For years I have been impressed with the work of the Salvation Army. The merging of personal salvation with social acts of charity have long been their style. Every Christmas I am reminded of the dedication of these Army workers as I sometimes see them in extremely cold weather, ringing their bells and collecting money for the needy. But the scene I saw this year caught my attention in still another way: It was a mom and her two young children working together to bless others. Their example made clear the lesson that giving and serving is not just something that adults are called to do; rather, it is something we, as families, can do together..
The relationship between spirituality and mental health has long be an interest of mine. There are times when mental health professionals and the religious community seem to be at odds with one another. But it is always exciting to me when I see studies which reinforce the belief that spirituality and mental health are closely connected. So you can imagine my joy when I recently came across an article titled, "7 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Gratitude."
Our daughter, Beth, recently spent five days in the hospital with abdominal pain, vomiting, and dehydration. The picture above was taken on the day she was released (the heart of the problem was finally determined to be the gallbladder which was removed a week later.) As we gathered her things and prepared to leave the hospital she exclaimed, "Don't forget my flowers!" These were very special flowers indeed...
Recently my daughter, Beth, spent a week in the hospital. She was admitted on an emergency basis following a visit to the doctor's office for abdominal pain and vomiting. While in "emergency" her white cell count was discovered to be 26; antibiotics and fluids were administered immediately. The picture above was taken as she was being released. As you can see she is smiling; but this return to health came only after five days of treatment, tests, scans, and a considerable amount of anxiety and worry....
It is always good to see "old friends." Every year my wife, daughter, and I enjoy visiting the Tulsa state fair. We don't go to ride rides; we mostly enjoy seeing various exhibits and shows. But every year one of our highlights is visiting the petting zoo. For the past several years I have shared attention with one particular llama. Over the years we have sort of become friends. Honestly, I doubt, from year to year, that he actually remembers me; but I remember him and always enjoy saying, "Hi," and petting him for a while. Friendships can be meaningful in so many ways....
When our grey Honda Odysee reached 250,000 miles we decided it was time to buy a new one and we gave the old car to our son and his family. My son and daughter-in-law have two small children and we thought this would be a good "run around" back up vehicle for them. To my surprise they used this vehicle a great deal and kept it for several years. They also continued my practice of regular oil changes and regular preventative maintenance. Well, this approach apparently paid off. The other day my son sent me a picture of the odometer: the car had just reached 400,000 miles. These miles were all achieved with the original engine. Although there are no guarantees, preventative maintenance seems to be a strategy, in many cases, that works.
While at the circus recently, I watched in amazement as 5 motorcycle riders zoomed around inside a cage doom. While the performance was going on I texted my son (along with a picture) and said, "these guys are crazy!" Obviously timing was essential. Each rider had to make his way around the doom at exactly the right time. I later asked someone, "how do they practice this?" I never got an answer to that question but one thing is clear: whether it is motorcycle doom riding or life in general, timing is important.
I recently attended the circus with my wife, daughter, and two grandchildren. I love the circus and enjoy watching the many displays of courage, talent, and skill. In most of the "acts" it was human talent that was on display, but several of them featured the skills of various animals. As I watched a giant elephant sit "gracefully" on a stool with a young lady riding on it's back, I wandered to myself, "How did they teach him (I guess it was a him) to do that?
Dr. Allen Schneider is a United Methodist pastor and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist presently serving the Sapulpa and greater Tulsa communities.