Monthly Archives: April 2013

It Is Not a Sin to be Sick

“It’s not a sin to be sick. . .whether diabetes, AIDS, or mental illness,” wrote Rick Warren on Twitter on April 22, 2013. Rick and Kay Warren, and the Saddleback faith community, are living in the grace, grief and aftermath of Matthew Warren’s recent suicide. Matthew, the Warren’s 27-year-old son, struggled with mental illness. I prefer to use the term “struggle” when referring to mental illness. In his first public statement about his son’s death, Warren wrote, “In spite of America’s best doctors, meds, counselors, and prayers for healing, the torture of mental illness never subsided.” (US News, April 12, 2013)

  I never knew anyone who had committed suicide until the summer following my high school graduation. That summer an older first cousin, a girl from our church youth group and the wife of our church’s Minister of Education all shot themselves. My cousin Barbara had indicated she did not want to be a burden to her aging parents. She was 33. “Elaine” was 18. She never said a word to anyone about her struggle. “Mrs. Brown,” age 58, was said to have had some health issues. That was all that our pastor said about it. One time while serving as a part-time chaplain at Hillcrest Medical Center, I faced the families of five suicides over six Thursdays in a row. I’ve witnessed the struggle, seen the anger, felt the frustration, and waded through the slog of pain and grief—shattered lives, broken hearts, unfulfilled dreams, and empty chairs. But there is Hope, the Lord who promises “never to leave us or forsake us.” We can share our stories of His grace.

The stigma of mental illness needs to end with us. The sick and struggling need our compassion, our friendship and our love, not our pretense, distance and judgment. Nearly everyone you know has a loved one struggling with something. Let’s make more room in our hearts, our church and our neighborhoods for fellow strugglers.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Spread hope. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Jefferson and Books

         There is no such thing as too many books for those of us who love to read and explore. My personal library of books on shelves and in closets is well over 2,000. A wonderful lady named Mickey Allio cataloged my books for 15 years or so. She made an old-fashioned library card catalog of each book by title, author and subject. Mickey, along with Mary Harlan, Alice Emminger, Irene Gant, Raedelle Plummer and Pansy Beaman, created our church’s versatile library. I weed my garden of books about twice a year. I place those books in a box to give away or sell. I cannot bear to see a book destroyed. I take heart in knowing that I’m not alone with my enjoyment of books. One of my mentors said that any book was worth the price if it provided a good sermonic story. I still use that excuse.

2013-04-03 15.06.12While on a recent minister’s retreat in Virginia, I took a day to spend time exploring the life of Thomas Jefferson. I went to his home, Monticello, and listened to the young tour guide tell of Jefferson’s great love for books and how buying books put him in great debt. I saw the library room he had built for his books and the book carousel he invented to read multiple books at his desk. At one time he was so in debt that he sold most of his books. Almost immediately he began buying more. He could read in five languages. I spent most of the day at Monticello. Then I went to the University of Virginia to see the campus Jefferson designed and founded with his friend, former president James Monroe. The famous rotunda was under repair. Two-hundred-year-old buildings need constant help. Because of the repair work, the copper dome of the rotunda under the roofing material was exposed for all to see. Like opening a book, there was a wonder to behold.

Some people tell me they have not read a book in a couple of years or more–too busy, too tired, too many shows to watch. Wander through a library, visit a bookstore or let me give you a book. What would you like to discover today?

 Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Read a good book. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Keeping Up the Averys

AveryFam2.3.13We have been receiving encouraging reports from our children in northeast China since they have returned from their February visit to the US. The wonders of technology make it possible for us to communicate by cell phone or visually over Skype. We love watching our grandchildren show us their preschool art and listening to them tell their stories of daily life. Precious and priceless are these visits. Dayna and Kevin Avery are working to establish a training school for children with disabilities. They are also connecting local medical personnel and teachers with the families of these children for individualized medical care and training. Recently a prominent local plastic surgeon offered his services without charge to provide cleft palate surgeries for children referred to him by Kevin and his group.

Easter in China took on special meaning for the family as they blended western traditions with their international fellowship of believers. If you do not already read their blog ServePrayLove, I would suggest going to http://servepraylove.blogspot.com/ to see pictures and short videos. Of course they always desire our prayers. Currently they have started a Friday evening discussion on matters of life and faith for ‘seekers’ in their apartment. From April 20 through October, Kevin will lead a Saturday training time for Chinese English teachers on English as a Second Language methods and disability studies as well as teaching English to disabled children in a program called Heart to Heart English. He also coordinates medical teams and volunteers as they come to northeastern China to serve the disabled community. While their blog shares life as a family and pictures of their community, their newsletter gives a more detailed understanding of their challenges, successes, stresses and joys. To receive their e-mail newsletter contact them at ServePrayLove (at) gmail.com and ask to be added to their list.

We always want to know about the weather (it has been a very cold winter) and their general health and well-being. I wonder how everyone is adapting to Chinese culture and language. It is especially good to hear how fruitful the work is becoming after their having been there only a year. I am challenged in my own life by their faith and commitment. Thank you for your prayers.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. ServePrayLove. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Sanctuary

I attended parts of the Episcopalian prayer retreat held at our church last month. The good people of St. Luke’s church were there as part of their spiritual preparation for Easter. Their focus that day was on the Good Shepherd as found in Psalm 23, John 10 and other scriptures. During that time, Father Georges donned his vestments as they gathered around for communion. There was much time for reflection and prayer. A simple sandwich lunch was followed by a group discussion and more silent meditation.

Some remarked that they remembered a time when neither Baptist nor Episcopalian would have considered holding a prayer service in the other’s church.  Our churches have partnered together for nearly 35 years with Meals on Wheels.

2013-03-30 19.39.33The window was why they asked to hold the retreat at the Baptist church. Our church sanctuary is a second home to me. I’ve seen the first light of day illumine the darkness as the sun rises behind the stained-glass Good Shepherd window. The setting sun casts its light through the angled southern windows painting the walls with reds, blues and yellows. Walking into our church sanctuary for the very first time usually elicits a “Wow.” The size and grandeur of the window is awe inspiring. I am told that our window is the largest religious work of art of its kind in Oklahoma.  Centered above our choir loft, the window is 18 feet wide and 25 feet tall. The traditional picture of Jesus holding a shepherd’s staff and lamb, with a ram and ewe walking beside, is bordered with a Native American beadwork motif.

Sometimes I can get so used to seeing and handling the sacred things around me that I take these blessings for granted, or no longer notice them. Seeing the meaning that these neighbors found in the beauty of our sanctuary reminded me to open my eyes to see the sacred, and not just at church. It is springtime. Look at the sacred beauty of new life all around us. Open your eyes to the sacred moments.  It’s awesome everywhere.

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Discover the Wow. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.

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Filed under Christian Life, Church life, Darryl DeBorde