“Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being”—Genesis 2:7 (NIV).
Did you know the way you breathe determines the quality of your life? I didn’t. Maybe it’s because breathing is such a natural process that we take it for granted. While the average person will take between 17,000 and 23,000 breaths a day, most of us don’t even think about it.
While it is common knowledge we can live for three months without food and three days without water before we die, we can only survive for three minutes without breathing. It is the fundamental body function and every other function in our bodies depends on breathing. Our breathing directly influences the lungs, the heart, the blood vessels, the lymphatic system, cellular metabolism and optimal function of the immune system.
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure”—Hebrews 6:19 (NIV).
Fading chalk-painted images on my driveway and wilting wildflowers on my dining room table remind me of a recent two-day visit with my three grandchildren. While I love to have them visit, I know why God blesses us with children when we are younger.
Reminders of the destruction left behind by tornadoes that struck Oklahoma in late May continue to appear in photos and stories, images and words that tear at our souls, especially of the youngest who lost their lives. From four months to nine-years-old, these smallest victims will no longer create chalk-pictures on the driveway or pick flowers to grace their grandmother’s table. They are gone. My heart aches for their families’ loss.
However, as I read the stories of survivors, I am encouraged. I find hope, as do others, of the tales of heroism and the outpouring of help from the nation. Stories of hero teachers, like the teacher at Briarwood Elementary who had her students line up their desks and get under them to play a game called “Worms.” Even more encouraging was the song the teacher had them sing. As the tornado tore through the Moore school, they loudly sang a favorite children’s hymn. “Jesus loves me this I know.”
“I command you to show respect for older people and to obey me with fear and trembling”—Leviticus 19:32 (CEV).
I challenged her to a race. We were both pushing our grocery carts headed to the checkout. Of course, I was just teasing. With a twinkle in her eye, she replied, “Honey, there’s no doubt you would beat me. At my age, it takes all my energy to push this cart.”
We ended up in the same checkout line. I don’t think it was a coincidence either as she showed up behind me. I had just finished unloading my cart when I noticed her standing patiently, waiting for me to place a divider between our selections. I smiled and said, “You weren’t too far behind me.”
As she unloaded her groceries, she asked, “Do you know how old I am?”
“Late 70s or early 80s,” I guessed. Smiling, she replied, “I will be 90 in a few days.” I could tell from her demeanor she wasn’t bragging. It was just a fact.
“You don’t look 90,” I replied. I was being honest. She didn’t look her age.
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers”—Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)
“Let the therapy begin!” Those words shouted to a neighbor made me realize just how tired I was of winter’s refusal to let go.
The therapy to which I was referring is yard work, specifically getting my hands in the dirt, pulling weeds and planting flowers. Yes, you read that correctly—pulling weeds. Why on God’s green earth, you ask, do I like pulling weeds? I didn’t say I liked pulling weeds; however, there is something soothing, and sometimes challenging, about removing the less desirous plant life from my flower beds. And, if I don’t weed out these unwelcome guests, they will choke out the good stuff. Continue reading
“ Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else”—1 Thessalonians 5:15(NIV).
In a hurry at the speedy checkout lane, I was becoming impatient when a problem arose with the person checking out just ahead of me. She had swiped her credit card several times but it wouldn’t work. The cashier wasn’t having any luck getting it to work either so she called for help.
As I listened to the conversation, I learned the card she was using to pay for her two items was part of a government assistance program. Since it was several days before the end of the month, it dawned on me that the customer didn’t realize she had used up her monthly allotment. She was going to put the items back when I felt a God nudge.
“Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”—Deuteronomy 6:7 (NIV).
No one ever told me that being a mother could be heartbreaking. Neither did anyone ever tell me that it could also be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. My own mother, who passed away almost nine years ago, certainly didn’t tell me, but then, she raised two daughters. I raised two sons. Therein is the difference, at least from my perspective.
Before I became a mother at age 23, I read the books on parenting. You know the ones that tell you, “Do this, but don’t do that.” Fewer volumes of advice were available in 1977 when my first son was born. When the second son came along almost four years later, who had time to read a book? The wisdom I had learned in the trenches before his birth, however, did not prepare me for the differences in the two. When I talk about my sons, I always tell others that if my second-born had been my first-born, he would have been an only child. God certainly has a sense of humor. So does my second son.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”—Romans 15:13 (NIV).
A ringing phone after midnight jolted me from a deep sleep. Expecting to hear one of my sons on the other end, I jumped into action when I heard the recorded voice telling me to take cover immediately. At the same time, I heard the tornado sirens blaring. Grabbing my glasses, my dog and my bed comforter, I headed for the safest place in my house—a long hallway.
My heart raced as adrenaline kicked into survival mode. Lying in the hallway, I could hear the strong wind and blaring sirens as my dog and I huddled under the comforter. For what seemed like an eternity, I lay there praying. After the sirens and wind ceased, I headed back to bed, but could not sleep. Turning on the television, I listened for updates as the storm moved across northeastern Oklahoma. Communication with the outside world via Facebook and texting on my cell phone kept me connected with friends and family who were still in the path of the storm.