Archive | February 2011

A Grandma’s Prayer

Amanda Laura -- 18 hours old

If you are a regular reader of Sundays with Cindy, you know that I normally take my inspiration for each week’s blog from something that has happened in my life or the life of a loved one that week.  This week something momentous happened—the most important event in the two years I’ve been writing Sundays with Cindy.  We had another grandbaby!

Amanda Laura was born on Tuesday February 22nd, weighing in at 7 lbs 4 oz. (we think—the weight was in grams, and there was some confusion between what was written on the paper they gave them, what the doctor said, and what the video showed, but it was somewhere between 7 lb 2 oz and 7 lb 5 oz!)  We’re not quite sure how long she was, either.  They said 20 inches at first, but when we converted the centimeters to inches it came out at 19 ¼ inches.  So who knows?  All those vital statistics that we are so anxious to have aren’t quite so vital, after all.  What is important is that she is safely here and healthy—and that her mama is okay, too.

And of course, she is beautiful!  We were able to see pictures and a video clip within two hours of her birth, and then Skyped with them and saw her in real time when she was less than twenty-four hours old!  I’ll say it again—thank you, Lord, for allowing us to have this modern technology!  We could not be there in Ecuador with them for the birth, but this was the next best thing.  She has the dark hair and coloring of the rest of her siblings—a nice mixture of her Ecuadorian and American genes.  In short, she looks like a Naranjo baby, and I must say, Laura and Fernando turn out beautiful children!  Forgive me for speaking as a proud grandma for a minute, but I was just as much in awe at the beauty of Amanda’s older sisters and big brother in the photos as I was at her!

Amanda is our ninth grandchild—the sixth granddaughter.  You might think that by now it is old hat, and that she is “just another grandchild.”  You would be wrong.  It never ceases to amaze me how totally unique and special each one of these children is, and how differently they are blessed with various gifts and talents and abilities; how their personalities are so uniquely their own and how they are growing into the special young people God wants them to be.  As we watch Amanda grow, I am sure we will be surprised and delighted with all that the Lord has packed into this newest little masterpiece, as well.

I feel so blessed and honored to be the grandmother of such a wonderful bunch of God’s most precious creations!  As any grandparent could tell you, it is a totally, most wondrously different thing becoming a grandparent than it was when we became parents.  I remember feeling such a sense of heritage when my first grandbaby was born.  When I became a mother, it was all about the here and now and our little family.  As a grandmother, though, I suddenly saw not just that first grandbaby, but her babies, and the babies of the next generation, and then the next.  I wondered at the legacy I would leave for my grandchildren and their children, and felt the responsibility to be a part of their lives and to contribute to their spiritual growth.

As Christian grandparents it is our responsibility to set a godly example for our grandchildren.  Our lives should exemplify the faith we believe in our hearts and live out daily.  Our communication ought to be a testimony and teach the truths of God’s Word.  I feel blessed that that not only do my grandchildren hear from my lips and see in my life what I believe, but someday when I am gone they and their children and grandchildren will have a written record of Grandma’s faith and  life, as well.  And there is no greater legacy that we can hand down, nor act of love that we can do for our grandchildren, than to fervently and intentionally pray for them.

My prayer for each one of you, my precious grandchildren, is that you will:

Know Jesus Christ as your personal Savior and have a vibrant, real relationship with Him.  There are no spiritual grandchildren.  We each must accept Him for ourselves.   “But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become the children of God, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.  “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”  (Matthew 22:37)

Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness. Make Him number One in your life.  “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)  Put God first in everything you do for He wants to crown you with success. (Proverbs 3)

Make God’s Word a lamp to your feet and a light to your path.  Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:105)  Treasure it in your heart.  Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”  (Psalm 119:11)  Understand how useful the Bible is for all your life.  All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16)

 Set your mind on things above, not on things on earth.  “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”  (Colossians 3:2)  Do not love the world or the things in the world.  Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”  (I John 2:15)  

 Let Jesus have all your worries and cares.  Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”  (I Peter 5:7)  Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything.  Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”  (Philippians 4:6)

 Be kind to others, tender-hearted and forgiving, just as Christ also has forgiven you.  And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”  (Ephesians 4:32)

 Be bold and strong.  Don’t be afraid.  Remember the Lord your God is with you always.  Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”  (Joshua 1:9)

May your heart be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control as you grow up in Christ.  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”  (Galatians 5: 22, 23)

Be happy, thanking God for everything.  “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” (I Thessalonians 5:16-18)

 Always believe that nothing can separate you from the love of God.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  (Romans 8:39)

 And may you be faithful to pass on to your children and grandchildren the spiritual legacy you have received. (Psalm 78)

Guilty Pleasures–Caffeine Treasures!

I woke up happy this morning.  I’d been dreaming about a funny incident that happened when Bob and I were dating over forty years ago and it brought a smile and a giggle as I woke up.  I can tell you right now, though—the mood isn’t going to last!  I went out to the kitchen to get my coffee and then I remembered—no coffee for me today or tomorrow morning, either, for that matter!  I have to take a stress test, and the rule is “no caffeine for 24 hours prior.”  I’m not one of those “don’t even speak to me until I’ve had my coffee” people, but I do enjoy a cup or two in the morning and I was bummed to realize that it wasn’t going to happen today.

I normally drink decaffeinated, but the last time I bought coffee the decaffeinated was not on sale (and it was horribly expensive) but the “half-caff” was, so I bought that instead.  Even if I had the decaffeinated in the house, though, I probably would play it safe and not drink it.  They say you still get some caffeine in the decaff.  The same is true for the caffeine-free Diet Pepsi and root beer.  I’d better play it safe and forego my favorite soft drinks.  And then—horrors!  The thought came to me—the list said no chocolate, either!  Chocolate has caffeine.  I have to get through the next twenty-eight or thirty hours with no coffee and no chocolate???  Oh, come on!!!

That cup of coffee first thing in the morning is my favorite time of the day.  For one thing—it feels like a little bit of love to me.  You see, for years Bob has made my coffee for me.  We have two coffee makers—one for his regular coffee and one for my decaff.  Every night before he goes to bed, he gets both pots ready for the morning.  Even when he’s going out of town, he fixes enough to last me until he gets home, sometimes using both pots just for me.  It’s just one of his little tokens of love for me that means so much.  Coffee just doesn’t taste quite as good to me if it isn’t made by Bob.

Then there’s the coffee itself.  I use a BIG mug so that I don’t have to run back out to the kitchen for that second cup.  Two packs of Sweet-N-Low and some flavored creamer and umm…good to the last drop!  Location is important, too.  When the weather is warm, I love to take my coffee out to the sun porch, settle in the old recliner with the sun shining in and the breeze coming through the windows and the birds singing outside…  What could be better than that?  Even in the winter when I’ve hunkered down in my nice, warm living room with my coffee and my Bible and my laptop, I feel cozy and grateful for the shelter of my home and the warmth of my husband’s love.

So yes, I will miss my coffee for the next day and a half—but don’t even get me started on the chocolate!  Now, I don’t get chocolate every day.  I probably don’t even get it every other day.  But it is just the fact that at this moment there is chocolate in the house and I can’t have it—on top of not having my coffee!  Have mercy!

Chocolate is another little token of love my husband treats me to now and then.  My favorite is Russell Stover’s Sugar-Free Toffee Squares.  (I only eat sugar-free.)  He’ll usually bring me home a little bag once a week.  There are only six or seven pieces in a bag so I have to spread it out and make it last, but oooo—I savor every piece!  I’ve searched the internet for a recipe for sugar-free English toffee, but so far have come up empty-handed.  It’s just as well.  If I made it myself I would eat too much of it, I’m sure, and I don’t need that.  (But if anyone has a recipe, please send it!)

I love chocolate anything!  Chocolate candy, chocolate cake, chocolate ice cream, chocolate pie, chocolate pudding, chocolate brownies, chocolate pastries, chocolate donuts—if it’s chocolate, I love it.  Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you’re looking at it), I can’t eat all that chocolate.  I’m diabetic, so I am pretty limited to a little sugar-free candy, ice cream or pudding now and then.  But I can dream, can’t I?

Actually, I’ve had chocolate on my mind all week.  I’ve been helping our Director of Ladies Ministries at church come up with some ideas for the up-coming Mother-Daughter banquet and a couple of the themes I tossed out involved chocolate.  One of them was “M&M’s—Moms and Misses” using, of course, M&M’s in the decorations, desserts and entertainment.  The other theme was simply all about chocolate—called maybe “In the Cookie of Life, You’re My Chocolate Chip” or “Simple Pleasures, Chocolate Treasures.”  We could have chocolate fountains and of course, lots of chocolate desserts, and decorate with pink and brown with touches of silver, perhaps, like chocolate kisses.   It would be cute to have little girls sing dressed up with sandwich-style signs like chocolate kisses or chocolate chip cookies and pink tights and shirts underneath.  We could play Chocolate Bingo with M&M’s as space markers for either theme.  And so on…  The ideas just kept flowing—like thick, melted chocolate in an aromatic wave of deliciousness…

Oops, sorry.  I got carried away there…

Who doesn’t love chocolate?  We women, especially, love chocolate.  It’s true!  You heard about the fellow, didn’t you, who found a bottle floating in the ocean?  He opened it and out popped a genie who gave him three wishes.  The guy wished for a million dollars, and poof!  There was a million dollars!   Then he wished for a convertible, and poof!  There was a convertible!  Finally he wished he could be irresistible to all women, and poof!  He turned into a box of chocolates!

But, seriously…  I have heard it explained that “chocolate causes certain endocrine glands to secrete hormones that affect your mood, your feelings and behavior. Therefore, it counteracts depression, in turn reducing the stress of depression.  Your stress-free life helps you maintain a youthful disposition, both physically and mentally.”  And the moral of that story is— eat lots of chocolate!

And then of course, chocolate is just a healthy food all around.  You realize it is a vegetable, don’t you?  It comes from the cocoa bean and beans are vegetables, right?  We’re supposed to eat lots of veggies, right?  So there you go!  Eat your veggies!  Actually, someone has said there are four basic food groups: milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate truffles, and of course healthy eating always involves the four basic food groups!  And there’s this theory going around that chocolate slows down the aging process.  It may not be true, but do we dare take the chance?  Someone else has called chocolate the Breakfast of Champions!  And why not?  Put “eat chocolate” at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you’ll get one thing done.

Emotionally, physically—chocolate is good for you!  Did you know it’s good for you spiritually, too?  Why, the first chapter of Genesis tells us “In the beginning, the Lord created chocolate, and He saw that it was good. Then he separated the light from the dark, and it was better.”  Oh, wait—I might have misread that…  (JK, of course!)  But I know chocolate must be good for us spiritually.  One of Julie’s mugs says so!  It says, “God sends no stress that chocolate and prayer can’t handle.”  And if Julie’s mug says it, that settles it for me!

Okay, I’ve been joking around here!  (You didn’t take me seriously, did you?)  There is some truth to it, I hear, that a limited amount of dark chocolate is good for you, but as in all things, in moderation.  And it’s sure a lot more fun going down than fish oil or Brussels sprouts or even broccoli!  Isn’t God good to give us something as delicious as chocolate on our earthly journey!  Someone has said, God gave the angels wings, and He gave humans chocolate.”

And isn’t it wonderful that, in reality, we don’t have to depend on chocolate or coffee or booze or pills or anything earthly to lift our spirits, or lighten our load, or bring us pleasure, or be satisfied, or cause us to feel safe, or give us a good time, or energize us, or relieve our stress!  The Bible tells me that when I am walking with Jesus:

His words are sweeter than honey (or chocolate!)—“More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:10)

He carries my load of care—“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. (I Peter 5:7)

He gives me strength and power—“I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:13)  “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power…” (Colossians 1:10, 11) 

He satisfies me—“My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips.” (Psalm 53:5)

He brings me joy—“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him.”  (Psalm 28:7)

He keeps me safe and secure—“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.” (Joshua 1:9)

He gives me peace and comfort and freedom from stress—“Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  (Philippians 4:6, 7)

The old hymn goes, “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold…”  I’d rather have Him than chocolate, too!  Wouldn’t you?

Love Is…

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, and I am pretty sure there won’t be a whole lot of whoop-de-do going on around here!  When you’ve been married for forty years and during most of those years finances were always tight, you come not to expect much.  But that is okay—truly!  Bob always said he didn’t like being coerced into a materialistic declaration of love by the card and candy companies—it meant more when he brought me something for no reason at all other than he simply loved me.  And he did.  He would surprise me and come home every now and then throughout the year with flowers or candy or a card just to say “I love you.”  It never hurt my feelings at all when I didn’t get a Valentine from him for I knew that he loved me.  He showed me over and over in our daily lives and with those little surprises.

There are certain Valentine Days over the last fifty-nine years that do stick out in my mind—times when I thought, “This has got to be my best Valentine ever!”  I remember the first real Valentine I got from a boy.  I was in third grade, I think, and a nice boy named David gave me a little red heart-shaped box of chocolates.  I had no idea up to that point that he “liked” me, and as little girls do, I voiced my thoughts to my best friend.  “I don’t ‘like’ him, but I sure like the chocolates!”  And as little girls do, she went and told him what I had said.  It hurt his feelings, I am sure, and that was the end of that.  I felt really bad about it.  I learned a good lesson that day about what not to say to even your best friend, and he learned a lesson on the cruelty of young puppy love.  Ouch.

A couple years later I got my next “Best Valentine Ever.”   An evangelist and his wife came to our church for a week and during that time they had a little contest for the kids.  They displayed a table of prizes and said whoever learned the most Scripture verses could have first pick of any of the prizes; second place would have second choice and so on.  I had my eye on a red Bible.  So did David—the boy who had given me the box of chocolates.  It was a fierce competition but in the end I won, winning that red Bible by learning something like 105 verses.  Poor David.  It was February 14, 1962 and I wrote on the dedication page “My Best Valentine Ever!”

My next precious Valentine came a couple days early.  Laurie was born six or seven weeks early on February 1, 1971 but did not leave the hospital until the 12th.  I remember thinking at the time how blessed we were to have this tiny but healthy little baby home at last just in time for Valentine’s Day.  Robbie one-upped her, though, when he came to us exactly on February 14, 1976, eight days old and straight out of the hospital.  I thought “Now this is our best Valentine’s gift ever!”

Those Valentine gifts were special and I will remember them always.  My memories of other Valentine gifts are not as strong, but long after the flowers have faded, the candy’s been eaten, and the cards stuffed away in a drawer, what lasts is the love behind the gifts.  Ah, love!  What confusion we have when it comes to love!

Someone has said, “Love is a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker.”  That is humorous, but I’m not sure I would call it love, to tell you the truth.  Puppy love, maybe?  Love is portrayed everywhere today as a physical reaction, or at best an emotional one.  If I were to rely on feelings, I would say love is like a pair of your favorite old comfortable slippers—a soft, cozy, comfortable, safe place in which to rest at the end of the day, molded just right over the years to fit you perfectly.  You might have your own picture of what love is to you.  Fireworks, maybe?  A pot of homemade chicken soup and plate of chocolate chip cookies?  Moonlit walks on the beach? 

What the Bible has to say about love is not based on either the physical manifestations or the emotional fluttering of the heartstrings.  God has given us a description of the nature of  love in I Corinthians and it is not “What do I get out of it?” but “What ought my conduct and communication be with others when I say I love them?”  The King James Version puts it like this:

Charity suffereth long, [and] is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth;  Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.  (I Corinthians 12:4-8 KJV)

Now, I love the King James Version.  I don’t believe it is the only one we should use, but it is the one I prefer to read, study, and memorize.  In this particular passage, however, I think we lose the impact a bit of what the Lord is telling us when we try to read and understand the King’s Olde English.  This is such an important passage for our everyday lives, for our relationships and for our happiness that I think we need it spelled out in plain 21st century English so that we truly understand and soak into our very beings what it is saying.  Here it is again in more modern day language (New International Version):

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  (I Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)

And again in the New Living Translation:

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! (I Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT)

When I read these verses the thought always goes through my mind, “Does the love I show my husband and others measure up to this?”  Am I patient?  Am I demanding or easily angered?  Do I bring up past grievances?  Am I respectful?  Am I kind?  Do I think the best of others and try to build them up?

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible sheds some light on these verses.  Charity (love), he says, is “slowness to anger or passion; longsuffering, patient endurance, forbearance. It is opposed to haste; to passionate expressions and thoughts, and to irritability. It denotes the state of mind which can bear long when oppressed, provoked, and when one seeks to injure us…”  The word kind, he goes on, denotes “to be good-natured, gentle, tender, affectionate, courteous…  It wishes well.  It is not harsh, sour, morose, ill-natured.  The idea is, that under all provocations and ill-usage it is gentle and mild. ‘Hatred’ prompts to harshness, severity, unkindness of expression, anger, and a desire of revenge.  But love is the reverse of all these.  A man who truly loves another will be kind to him, desirous of doing him good; will be ‘gentle,’ not severe and harsh; will be ‘courteous’ because he desires his happiness, and would not pain his feelings.”  Barnes continues, “Love does not envy others the happiness which they enjoy; it delights in their welfare; and as their happiness is increased by their endowments, their rank, their reputation, their wealth, their health, their domestic comforts, their learning etc., those who are influenced by love ‘rejoice’ in all this. They would not diminish it; they would not embarrass them in the possession; they would not detract from that happiness; they would not complain or repine that they themselves are not so highly favored.”

Why is it we are so often more polite, more patient with perfect strangers than we are with those we profess to love the most?  What a shame.  True love is an action.  It is not merely physical attraction or emotional feelings– what I am experiencing.  It is not concerned with me—it is concerned with the one I love. It is showing through my conduct and my communication honor and respect, patience and kindness, gentleness and selflessness.  It is working hard for the relationship and for the good of the other.  It is supporting, encouraging, standing behind, protecting, pressing on when the going gets tough.

I wish all these thoughts would pop into my mind every time I am tempted to retort in anger or put someone down or be impatient.  There is no neon sign that will flash STOP! in the heat of the moment; no menu of Love Is-isms to flutter down in front of my eyes to remind me.  The best thing to do is to memorize this passage in one of the modern translations and then to meditate, and meditate, and meditate and MEDITATE on it until it becomes so ingrained that it becomes natural to interact and respond with God’s love. 

I Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT) says, “If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing.”  It’s not the gift that counts on Valentine’s Day, or even the thought behind it.  It is not flowery words or poetry or even a heartfelt love letter.  It is not a romantic dinner or date night or what comes after.  It is the everyday actions of godly, loving conduct and communication that truly say, “I love you!”

Unto the Least of These

Today is Robbie’s thirty-fifth birthday!  It is always a happy day for us—and a little bit sad, as well.  Happy because we are so grateful to have our precious Robbie as our son; so glad to celebrate another birthday with him; so tickled at his excitement when he pulls the tissue paper out of a gift bag and peeks inside.  A little sad when I shop for his gifts among the baby and toddler toys and know that there are very few things even there that he can do; feeling bad that he can’t have a birthday cake and candles since he can’t eat food by mouth anymore; melancholy knowing there probably aren’t too many more birthdays ahead. 

We’ve sung “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” to him already this morning (he doesn’t like the Happy Birthday song) and he opened one of his gifts (a Barney DVD and two children’s CDs.)  Laurie and Julie and their families are planning to Skype with him this afternoon, and he will open his present from the Naranjos while they are on Skype.  Julie’s family is coming next weekend to celebrate his and Benjamin’s birthdays together in person, the Lord willing.  We’ll just spread the joy out a little!

Thirty-five years ago today, though, we didn’t even know Robbie existed or that our lives were about to change in a dramatic way.  It was actually Valentine’s Day, 1976 when we received that little bundle of love wrapped up in blue.  Robbie came to us straight out of the hospital—eight days old with a little round face that was definitely all boy!  His single birth mother had a severe form of epilepsy and could barely take care of herself, let alone a baby, and so she had given him up for adoption.  Although we had taken him as a foster baby, we knew immediately the Lord intended him for our family and applied to adopt him. 

“What would you do,” we were asked during the following interviews, “if you found out he was handicapped?”  We knew there was a good chance he could have epilepsy, but whether they suspected there might be other handicaps, no one ever said.

“The same thing we would do with our natural-born child—we would do our best with God’s help, day by day trusting Him,” we answered.  “You don’t try to give the baby back!”

There were other handicaps.  By the time Robbie was a year old we discovered he had suffered extensive brain damage before birth and was severely mentally retarded.  He had inherited his birth mother’s epilepsy in its most severe form called Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome which, although we did not know it at the time, continued to do more brain damage.  He functioned at a two or three year old level, although he never talked or became toilet-trained.  Through the years he went to special schools or special classes within the school system, and as an adult attended a workshop setting, although he could not actually work.  In 2001, the day after Robbie’s 25th birthday—exactly ten years ago tomorrow—he suffered a medical crisis that suddenly began the physical downward spiral that left him the way he is today—with cerebral palsy, unable to stand or walk, tube-fed, and even more mentally disabled than he was before.  He now functions at an infant to one year level, bedridden and homebound, unable to even tolerate being in a wheelchair long enough to get him out of the house much.

We could never have asked for a more beautiful, precious gift in this life than our Robbie.  We are aghast when we hear some protest, “ But what value does such a life have?  What can he contribute?  He is a drain on society!”  There is purpose to his life.  His life has been a picture to us of the unconditional love and acceptance of the Lord Himself, for Robbie does not see the color of one’s skin, one’s status, wealth, cleanliness or talent—or lack thereof.  He simply loves each person with whom he comes in contact just as he or she is.  Over and over through the years we have had people tell us that knowing Robbie has been a blessing in their lives, and we have seen for ourselves how God has used him to soften hardened hearts for Him. 

The Lord has used Robbie to teach us to be better servants—to be more compassionate, more humble, more giving; to be better counselors and encouragers.  Having Robbie for their brother prepared our girls to be the nurturing, loving, responsible, beautiful women they are today who are being used mightily by the Lord in the many lives they touch.  The joy and laughter, inspiration and blessing Robbie has brought into our lives have far, far outweighed the burdens, and we thank God for the precious gift, the privilege and honor to be chosen to be his parents.

The gift of life comes from God, and He makes no mistakes.  The Bible tells us that before we were even in the womb He had a plan for each one of us.  Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I set you apart… (Jeremiah 1:5)  Then He Himself fashioned us in the womb  exactly the way He wanted us.  For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)  He lovingly designed Robbie, making him unique and special and perfect for the plan He had for him.  How can we then not accept and love and value him just the way he is?

Jesus said in Matthew 25:34-40, Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:  For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.  If anyone is among “the least of these” in the eyes of the world, it is Robbie.  By society’s standards, he has nothing material to offer, no contributions to make that can be measured in dollars and cents.  Jesus likened him to Himself, however, when He said that when we show compassion upon Robbie and others like him, it is as if we are doing it unto Him, the precious Son of God.  How much more valuable can that be?

Life is precious.  Each life is precious regardless of how it appears to our human eyes, designed to bring glory to God.  Those who would abort a less than “perfect” baby, or remove the feeding tube from a disabled person, or even simply mock the handicapped person in their class or neighborhood or workplace think they know better than God the worth of that human life.  The lives of even “the least of these” should be honored, respected, valued, cared for as if we are loving Jesus Himself for He tells us that, indeed, that is exactly what we are doing.  What a privilege and joy and blessing to serve Him in that way! 

I always think of Robbie’s birth mother on this day.  I wonder if she is still alive, and if she is, if she is thinking of him today.  She was in her early thirties when she had him, we were told, so she would be in her late sixties now, and with the severity of her epilepsy, she may already have passed on.  Someday in Heaven I hope I will meet her and be able to thank her for making the selfless decision to give birth to that precious baby, and then give him up so that we could have him.  Today is a celebration of that day, a celebration of Robbie—a celebration of life.