For those of you who would like the handouts Tonya referenced in her “Stress-Less on Purpose” presentation [as presented in Zoomitis earlier today], here they are:
Our nation, and perhaps our world, may currently be experiencing Zoom overload. Everyone is Zooming into work conferences, neighborhood get-togethers, small-group church or social meetings, doctor appointments, school classes, workshops, and more. In fact, Zoom bombing incidents have become a real threat to bona fide Zoom meetings. Who would have ever thought!
That being said, yesterday one of our daughters encouraged us to register for an ALS Association–Texas Chapter Zoom workshop titled “Stress-Less On Purpose,” led by Tonya Hitschmann, Director of Community Programs. As Tonya shared in an email: “We truly, truly want each of our workshops to be worth the time investment, and to somehow, someway lighten the load for all who are living with ALS.” I truly believe their mission was accomplished!
After you make time to view this video, I think you will agree it was 51 minutes well spent. This video is not just for people with ALS and their caregivers—it is for you, too, and will provide some good tools for how to purposefully deal with stress in your own life.
Undoubtedly, you’re familiar with the song Julie Andrews made famous in the “The Sound of Music” . . . My Favorite Things.
One of my favorite things is the first bird to greet our mornings—the California Towhee. This morning before dawn, I heard the sweet chirp of a friendly Towhee in our yard beginning its daily search for food. Our local Towhees are really nondescript birds with no exceptional markings. Jon tells me that his father, who grew up on a remote ranch behind Hearst Castle, simply referred to them as “brown birds.” It’s interesting to watch them use both feet to quickly sift through leaves and debris looking for tasty insects or seeds—all the while making their delightful little chirping sound. They are not combative birds, as are the California Scrub-Jays and crows—they don’t harass other birds for the express purpose of preying on their young. Towhees mind their own business, don’t quarrel with other birds, and just live their lives finding food, mating, laying eggs, raising babies . . . and then begin the cycle all over again. They seem to live without worries which is exactly how God wants us to live our lives!
Another of my favorite things are the ancient redwood trees. Redwoods are so magnificent! As a child, our family visited the redwood forests along the coast in northern California—something still vivid in my mind. Only God could have devised a plan to create such impressive, giant trees and then create the trees for us and wildlife to enjoy. It is beyond my imagination how anyone could gaze at the grandeur of one of these enormous trees and not believe that the God of the universe is the One responsible for putting them here.
Fanny Crosby knew God and understood that He needs all the glory!
We’d been in the market for an upright freezer. Our daughters were young, and I wanted to purchase food from a co-op and needed more space for frozen food. After checking out models at several appliance stores, we realized prices were not affordable. So we waited . . . and prayed.
A friend named Lori who was also the mother of young children lived in a nearby community. She had severe back problems which prohibited her from driving long distances. Lori’s mother lived in southern California and was in the hospital fighting an acute infection following an elective surgery. Lori was concerned her mother was dying, but she couldn’t make the roundtrip to go see her. I offered to drive her big station wagon so she could lay down in the back for the duration of the trip. We both arranged for friends to take care of our children and set off for Oceanside together. Lori was so relieved to see her mother face to face . . . it greatly lifted the spirits of both mother and daughter. Lori’s mother eventually made a full recovery. It was a trip well worth the time and effort.
The day after returning home, Jon and I set off with our girls for a bike ride. Jon was in the lead while I brought up the rear. As we rounded a corner, an unfamiliar man standing in his front yard shouted out distinctly, “Hey, could you use a freezer?” I called to Jon to stop and said, “Did you hear what that man back there just asked us? He wondered whether we could use a freezer.” We turned around and went right back. The man told us he had just moved his aging mother out of her home, just a few blocks from our home. There was a big upright freezer in her garage. If we could use it, he would give it to us, pay the rental fee for the dolly, and deliver it to our house in his truck! We cut our bike ride short and met the man at his mother’s house. The freezer was exactly what we’d been looking and praying for! Jon likes to call this a kiss from God.
But the story doesn’t end there. Soon after we had the freezer safely in our garage, the phone rang. It was Lori. She told me she was so grateful for me driving her to see her mother, she and her boys had just finished praying that God would bless us in some very special way. I said, “Well, listen to this!”
God listens when we pray.
He delights in giving us even more than we asked for.
He’s a Father Who really loves His children!
Through an amazing mix of circumstances, from autumn 1971 to the spring of 1972, I was enrolled at Bodenseehof—one of 26 Torchbearer centers with a commitment to providing young people with foundational teaching and practical training to live the authentic Christian life.
Bodenseehof is an English-speaking school situated in Fischbach, Germany—Fischbach being a small village on the Bodensee. Bodensee is a lake situated where Germany, Switzerland, and Austria meet. I was one of 50 students from countries including Austria, Canada, England, Germany, Switzerland, and the USA.
During the Christmas season, students would be required to pack all their belongings to be stored in a local barn and vacate the premises for three weeks to allow the school facility to host Christian conferences. A family receiving financial support from my home church was serving in Athens, Greece, with Greater Europe Mission. They graciously invited me along with a schoolmate named Christine to come stay with them for the entire three weeks.
Philippians 4:8-9 (J.B. Phillips New Testament)
Here is a last piece of advice.
If you believe in goodness and if you value the approval of God,
fix your minds on the things which are holy and right
and pure and beautiful and good.
Model your conduct on what you have learned from me,
on what I have told you and shown you,
and you will find the God of peace will be with you.
Children are like soft clay. They can easily be channeled toward what’s good and wholesome—or what’s bad and harmful.
Dr. Ethel J. Aijian
God has strategically arranged for some exceptional people to intersect my path throughout my life. They have selflessly modeled putting others’ needs above their own. Dr. Ethel J. Aijian was one of those remarkable people. She embodied the love of Jesus Christ as I grew up in southern California. Mrs. Aijian, as I always referred to her, was a pediatrician. She earned her medical degree from USC School of Medicine and worked tirelessly to help children afflicted with chronic and debilitating cystic fibrosis. She later married another medical doctor and chose as her full-time profession to be the mother of their five children. It’s safe to say she never looked back.
Through Dr. Ethel Aijian’s relationship with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, she arranged to take kids from our church to visit critically ill patients. I was quite young, in 3rd or 4th grade, and had never been to any hospital for a visit. Children’s Hospital is unique among hospitals—exclusively committed to helping children. Mrs. Aijian instructed each of us to bring a wrapped gift for the patients and reminded us to walk quietly through the hallways. It was heartrending to see so many children confined to beds or wheelchairs. What spoke volumes to my pliable heart and mind was watching sad expressions on faces of young patients give way to smiles when we entered their rooms and presented our gifts. An experience indelibly imprinted in my memory.
At such an impressionable age, that encounter with seriously ill children was a catalyst God used to begin instilling in me . . .
compassion for others less fortunate than myself,
gratefulness for my health, home, and church . . . and
thankfulness for Mrs. Aijian and her intuitive plan
to provide young children with a life-changing opportunity
to see beyond their own sheltered circle
and become aware of others less fortunate.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 2:3 (Living Bible)
Don’t be selfish;
don’t live to make a good impression on others.
Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourself.
Matthew 5:34-36 (Good News Translation)
Then the King will say to the people on his right,
‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father!
Come and possess the kingdom which has been prepared for you
ever since the creation of the world.
I was hungry and you fed me,
thirsty and you gave me a drink;
I was a stranger and you received me in your homes,
naked and you clothed me;
I was sick and you took care of me,
in prison and you visited me.’
TULIPS by Joni Eareckson Tada
Brooke’s dire condition reminds me . . .
everyone has something challenging in their life.
If not personally, then a relative,
a friend, a co-worker, or a neighbor.
Some plights are readily visible—others are hidden
from eye’s view but are just as real.
Everyone needs encouragement—
An ear to listen and a voice
that offers hope.
Let’s look for creative ways to brighten the lives
in our circle of friends . . . even more so during these
challenging days of sheltering at home.
We’re all in this together!
Through It All
(written by Andraé Crouch)
I’ve had many tears and sorrows
Through it all
I’ve been to lots of places
Through it all
So I thank God for the mountains
Through it all
HE GIVETH MORE GRACE
by Annie Johnson Flint
1) He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
2) When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
3) Fear not that thy need shall exceed His provision,
Our God ever yearns His resources to share;
Lean hard on the arm everlasting, availing;
The Father both thee and thy load will up bear.
Annie Johnson Flint
Born ~ December 24, 1866 – Vineland, New Jersey
Died ~ September 8, 1932 – Clifton Springs, New York
My favorite instructor during paralegal studies was and still is a brilliant, witty civil defense attorney. Always dressed to a T in his smart suit, tie, and polished shoes, he excelled in making Introduction to Civil Procedure a captivating course. Each week, after assuming his place in the front of the room, he emphatically declared—followed by a long-drawn-out pause:
“Class . . . PEOPLE LIE”
Why did he repetitiously accentuate something so obvious? Because he wanted his students to keep at the very forefront of their minds and never forget:
People will look you directly in the eye and
without so much as a flinch . . .
LIE TO YOUR FACE!