One of the things that really brings me joy is being able to be an encouragement to others, especially when I can help them live their best life. I try to be for others, what I wish someone would be for me. I am not sure that I always get this right, but it is the goal of my life and living and brings me great satisfaction and pleasure when I get it right.
Proverbs 11:25 says: The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.
This morning I was thinking about the practical ways that I can accomplish my goal of being an encouragement to others and here are just a few of the ways that I came up with:
SMILE MORE! It is amazing how many people walk around all day long and never smile. I’ve noticed if I smile at others, then often they can’t help but smile back. I try to make it a habit to speak to every person I cross paths with. It’s amazing what a ”Good Morning!”, “Beautiful Day!” Or “How’s Life Treating You?” will wake folks up to realizing that it is more than just them in this world. God has given us one another to be a blessing and encouragement. A smile communicates a thousand positive messages without saying a word.
THINK THROUGH AND TEACH THE SACRED SCRIPTURES! When my “hellos” turn into a conversation, then I need to have something better than my own home spun theories to talk about. This is another reason, that I begin everyday with reading in the Scriptures. God’s Word is God’s Wisdom and it makes me a lot wiser, when I read it, live it and share it with others. Speaking what I am learning from the Scriptures helps me to live it and gives others something meaningful to think about.
WRITE ENCOURAGING NOTES AND POSTS! I decided many years ago, that if I could not keep it positive that I would get off of Social Media. Social Media is a platform that can be used for good of bad, the choice is yours. I choose to use it for good. I can commit on other’s post and share an encouraging word, attaboy or way to go. I can post things I am learning and ways that God is growing me. I can text, email and send encouraging messages with just a few key strokes. The “key”, I have found is just making sure that I actually take the time to do it. Don’t just scroll and casually read. As you scroll, think about how you can be a blessing and be one.
LISTEN AND WHEN YOU DO SPEAK, DON’T WASTE YOUR WORDS! So many conversations now a days have become a big waste, because we do a lot of talk, but nothing much really gets said. There are a couple of easy things we can do to change this: 1.) Listen! Close your mouth, stop thinking about what you are wanting to say and really listen. Listening is an art form and the people that get good at it, can be life changing. 2.) When you do speak, make sure that what you are speaking is EAT = encouraging, applicable and true. The goal of our speaking should always be to leave things better than we found them.
JUST BE YOURSELF – THE YOU THAT GOD MADE YOU TO BE! You really are a special creation of the Most High God. And God created you to be a blessing and encouragement to others. When we get this right, our lives bring God great joy, so just be you, the real you, the fun you, the happy you. As you make life better for others, you will become even more of yourself and you will find that you are blessed in your blessing of others…
Some of you know what has been going on with some of my health challenges and some of you may have missed part of the story”, so I thought I would try to clear things up and let you know “the rest of the story as one of my favorites Paul Harvey would say.
The first part of the story, I do not remember and I will have to tell you based on what I have been told by those that were standing by. I want to thank everyone for your prayers, love, support, encouragement, patience and understanding. It has been and continues to be a learning journey and has grown and is growing me in so many different ways.
On Monday May 30th after suffering with a three day headache, I discovered that I had sinus infection that was making my ability to swallow difficult and my talking sound funny because of a swollen tongue. I of course started my home remedies, because even though I am not a doctor, I could play one on TV. On Wednesday evening, I preached, recorded and uploaded my Wednesday evening message and it sounded like I had a button or piece of candy in my mouth the whole time, I promise I didn’t, so on Friday, I decided after everyone’s coaxing to do a virtual visit with the Doctor. The Doctor prescribed Mucinex D and a nasal spray, which I started late Friday evening. Friday was a pretty normal day, other than sore throat, drainage and swelled tongue. I went to bed Friday evening just wanting to feel normal again.
This next part, I don’t remember, so I am going from Joy’s telling of the story. On Saturday morning June 4, 2022, I woke up, came into the living room and ask Joy what was going on? I told her that something was not right, that something was off. She got worried and started asking me all kinds of questions to see if I knew who I was, where I was, what our Granddaughters name was and when I couldn’t answer that, she got on the phone with my sister and My Brother In Law told her to call 911. During this time I was wide awake, talking, shaking hands and supposedly just trying to get my bearings. I am thankful for my Brother In Law Bill Cantrell showing up Johnny on the spot and Joy’s Mom Nancy Jo being here for Joy and the girls. There is a lot more to the story, and I was there, but I wasn’t there, so I’m not going into all of that, except to say: Praise the Lord, I did not say or do anything too embarrassing.
The rescue squad showed up and rushed me to the hospital with stroke like symptoms, where they did a CT Scan upon my arrival. Our good friend Julia Ellison Nicols made sure that I was well taken care of and was my Guardian Angel. The Doctors felt like my short term memory loss was due to the extremely high blood pressure and started me on a drip of medicine to try to start bringing it down and continued a barrage of tests, poking and sampling whatever they could get from me.
I can remember bits and pieces of the Emergency Room. I recognized Dr. Lutz from previous meetings when visiting parishioners, but it all just seems like a dream and I thank the Lord for that, because I have never been afraid to die, but I have never wanted it to hurt.
In the afternoon/evening they moved me into ICU and for the first time that I can remember, Joy and I talked and she filled me in on what all had happened, what was going on and what the plan of operation was. She informed me that I would not be able to preach the next day and that she had already sent messages and taken care of all of that and so I laid there and we talked and I slept and we talked and I slept They eventually brought me supper and I was trying to come up with a plan to get someone to break me out of there and take us to the Peddler, my treat. I told Joy to go home and get some good rest in a good bed. I actually rested pretty decent, although I am not a back sleeper and I was all wired up.
Sunday morning June 5, 2022 found me still in ICU, trying my best to come up with an escape plan. They were monitoring my blood pressure levels and decided to get rid of my drip and try me with a pill and see if they would stay stable, this was the key to my getting into a regular room and going home. I honestly was in pretty good spirits the whole time and kept thinking about how grateful I was that things were not much worse. Supposedly the meds that I took for the sinus infection cause my blood pressure to jump into the danger zone and I honestly was very blessed that things were not a whole lot worse. On the agenda for this day would be more test, particularly a MRI of my head, throat and chest. You will be pleased to know that I do have a brain and a heart.
Sunday afternoon they moved me to a regular room and we waited for results of the MRI. The MRI revealed that I had a small stroke on the back left side of my brain. It also revealed that totally unrelated, I had an aneurysm on the right side of my brain, but not that they were overly worried about. They also noticed that the arteries going up my neck were a little twisted, which they called Fibromuscular Displaysia, but they should be okay, because it did not seem to impact the flow of things. My heart looked good, other than some thickening of the heart wall, which was probably a result of the high blood pressure.
All I could think about was holding my Granddaughter Addi Jo, walking around our yard in Cheddar, seeing our family/friends and getting back to my Pastor/Preacher work and ministry, especially with my dear Eureka Baptist Church.
The good news so far is that there does not seem to be any permanent damage. I should not require any surgery, but I do have a slew of specialist that I now have to see, a few medications that I have to take and Joy thinking she has been promoted to General. (Haha)
On Monday June 6, 2022, I spent most of the day just waiting. We had to do an echo on my heart, just to make sure things were clear and my nurse assured me that no matter what time they gave me the clear that she could and would get me out of there within 20 minutes. Later in the late afternoon, we finally got the news that we could split and split we did.
God and everyone has been so good to us. The major thing I am learning is that I am not going to bounce back from this like I would anything else. I have good days, where I feel like I am back to normal and then challenging days where I feel like a very old man, who can’t do anything for himself. I believe this is just my body adapting, adjusting and getting used to a different way of living. I have prayed about it and I am trusting God to bring me back better than ever.
“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” -Isaiah 41:13
Today as I was preaching, I felt more back to my normal self. I am still having some sinus challenges that is impacting my throat, tongue and speech, but I trust that in God’s time, God will take care of it, because I know without doubt that He is taking care of me!
We live in a disposable society. The majority of people eat most of their meals with plastic untensils, on paper plates or in styrofoam bowls, which ends up going into the trash to help contribute to the filling up of landfills, which give an enduring testimony to how we have become a “throw away” society.
If we don’t like something, then the easiest thing to do is give it to someone else or throw it away. And this attitude of consumption and self satisfaction has contributed to our society being more selfish and never satisfied. As the landfills continue to grow deep and wide, our lives become more shallow and meaningless, leaving us with the lingering question: Where did we go wrong?
I think one of the real problems is that we have forgotten what real satisfaction is really all about and bought into the lie that tells us that we have to live like someone else to really be happy. We’ve developed a “the grass is greener” mentality that refuses to allow us to experience anything as it really is. Instead, we allow ourselves to make our decisions and live our lives based on the opinions, judgments and expectations of others, who could care less if you are happy, fulfilled or satisfied.
Live your life long enough and pay close enough attention and you will discover that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side, and if it is, then it’s probably because it’s built on top of a septic tank. God has created each one of us and gifted us with certain skills, talents and abilities. When we grow in our relationship with Him, He is able to use what He has given us to help us build a life of joy, happiness and contentment.
Most of us miss it, because we have bought into the false advertising of the society we’ve grown up in and most of us suffer from “If Only” disease. “If only I had this or that.” “If only I was as good looking or as smart as that person, then I would be truly happy” We convince ourselves that others have it better and if we had whatever it is that they have, that we want, then we would some how be complete and happy too. The problem with the “If Only” disease is that it never stops to take in the whole picture. If you look close enough at the person or thing that you think is perfect, you will discover that the person or thing has it’s own unique set of challenges, difficulties and struggles.
The grass is not always greener and if it is, then there is a reason and the reason may be good or it may be bad. If it’s good, then learn from it and make your own grass greener. If it’s bad, then learn from it and be grateful you are not having to dig up your septic tank.
Three Steps To Greener Grass On Your Side Of The Fence!
Step One: Be Grateful For The Grass You Have! Take and make time to appreciate what you have. The old saying is true: “Sometimes you don’t know what you had until it’s gone!” If we invested the time we spend admiring everyone else’s grass into appreciating our own grass, then we would find the motivation to actually get our grass greener, which is where the real satisfaction comes from.
Step Two: Take Care Of You And Yours! Stop wasting your time getting caught up in the comparison game. Your value comes from one amazing truth: God created you and gifted you on purpose and for a purpose. Live that truth, grow that truth and share that truth. Take care of the blessings God has given you and I can promise you they will reproduce.
Step Three: Enjoy! I truly believe that this life is God’s gift to us and what we do with this life is our gift to God. I believe the greatest way to give God a great gift back is to live the life He has given me for all it’s worth and then some. There is nothing like seeing the sun rise in the morning and set in the evening. There is no sound quiet as soul stirring as hearing your children and grandchildren laugh and be happy. There is nothing that taste so good as a good meal with great friends. There is no place that smells as sweet as home and there is no touch like the touch of the one you love and who loves you back.
If we are not careful, we miss what really matters, because we are looking for something better, when better was right where you live…