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Monday, February 9, 2015
Footbridge over Conodoquinet Creek Mountain Stream in Pennsylvania 2/9/15
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We dedicate our message today to our many friends and readers who are affected by family members and friends who have Alzheimer's.
"I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people" (Psalm 116:14). "Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord'" (Matthew 5:33). "Marriage should be honored by all" (Hebrews 13:4).
Saturday afternoon I heard a song on the radio that really touched my heart, so much so, that I ran upstairs to tell Brooksyne she needed to listen to the words. The song prompted us to share a series of messages this week called "Hidden Heroes" based on the title of this heartfelt song, written by Dixie Phillips and sung by the Talleys. I don't normally steer readers away from our message, till the very end, since once you leave you may not return! But today I will place the link (a YouTube video) right here and encourage you to listen to the song before reading our message.
Hidden heroes are the scores of people in this fallen world who, regardless of any fame or attention, do the right thing, many times at great personal sacrifice.
Pat and Lois Simpson were our neighbors through my childhood in Belton, MO. They had six children and their son David has been a friend for some 55 years. He sent me a text nearly two weeks ago informing me that his dad had passed away.
Nine years ago, along with my brothers Mike and Pat, I stopped by to see Pat and Lois in their home in Belton. That's when I took the photo to the left. We were in the Midwest to bury our mother's remains in a little country cemetery in southern Missouri and made it a point to visit several of Mom's friends, something we learned afterwards was very meaningful to them.
At the time Pat was in the initial stages of Alzheimer's Disease, a progressive disease that destroys memory and other important mental functions. By 2009 Pat's disease progressed which forced the family to move him to nursing care. Of the 5.3 million Americans, 5.1 million of them are over the age of 65. This means that 13 percent of people over the age of 65 have the disease. There are some rare cases of early-onset Alzheimer's disease (online source).
What a tremendous blessing that Lois and all the children remained loving and supportive to the very end. Lois, now in her eighties, was a daily visitor and even when she couldn't be with Pat he occupied her thoughts. When I spoke to Dave on the phone he shared the touching recollection of his dad's final days and described a touching scene of his mother's enduring love.
The majority of couples enter into a marriage covenant so starry eyed, convinced that nothing could ever lessen the degree of their commitment or intensity of their love. But, over time the children come along, job responsibilities and stresses increase, financial challenges lurk, and other difficulties are thrown into the daily grind. During their aging process old love may be altogether different than young love.
Pat and Lois had made solemn vows between themselves in the presence of God and in the presence of others at their wedding sixty-two years earlier. We now live in a generation where so many times vows are viewed as a formality and are so easily broken. But God calls us to take our vows seriously. As I searched through the Scriptures I am struck by just how much emphasis there is in the Word on this subject. I just selected several verses that deal with this matter.
"I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people." That's a powerful commitment. The Psalmist made a solemn pledge to fulfill the vows he had made. Surely apart from our commitment to God, our marital vows are the most serious. In a Christian ceremony our vows are made to the Lord but they are indeed witnessed by many others and we see the seriousness of making a vow in Numbers 30:1,2: "This is what the Lord has commanded. If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word. He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth."
Today I call each reader to consider the vows you have made, particularly in regard to your marriage, and in your own heart. If you're in a troubled marriage take the needed steps to strengthen your marriage commitment and restore it to wholeness. Reaffirm your marital vows regularly so that your commitment is absolute and, in union with one another, you will properly respond to any troubling ordeal you face. God is honored when we do so.
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we pray for those of us who are in a marriage relationship, that You would strengthen our marital bond and increase our love and commitment year by year. Help us to be quick to forgive, willing to say, "I'm sorry" and look not only to our own interests but also to the interests of our partner. Help us to practice forbearance and persevere daily as we build healthy relationships with our spouses. In this world of instability with frequent divorces and broken families may our children and those who look on see us keeping our vows in the good times as well as the bad. We can do this in the power and strength of the Holy Spirit through our Lord Jesus Christ in whose name we pray. Amen.
This weekend we went to a Sunday School class retreat in the mountains of central Pennsylvania. We enjoy these times of fellowship with our church friends. Nelson Heisey showed me his giant spatula he had received as a Christmas gift. No doubt he's getting many laughs with this over-sized spatula but he will also put it to good use since he often cooks large meals at these kinds of gatherings, including the men and boys retreat where the food is all too quickly consumed by the hungry and active men and boys.
David Simpson and his wife Sandy
Click on photo to enlarge
Yesterday afternoon we visited with Dale Singer at Longwood Manor. He is seeing his wife Catherine through her journey with Alzheimer's. Yesterday he was so pleased to share with me that she had a "good day". Dale, who likes to tout that he was "born a singer" and sung professionally in the past. He is assisting Brooksyne here and continues to have a strong singing voice even in his eighties.
Friday evening we attended a Valentine Dinner for business leaders. Ron Hoover leads the group Convene. He and his wife Bonnie invited us to join them for a superb dinner as well as the delightful fellowship and games that followed.
Ron is challenging couples to remain firmly committed in their love and devotion to one another.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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