Thursday, April 29, 2010

Give thanks

Hanging in our living room is this cute little chalkboard (made by Whitney) and I enjoy writing messages that will encourage us and/or make us smile. For several days now, this has been the message: Give thanks.

It's interesting to note how many times I have been in the middle of something not going so well, and my eyes "happen" to glance at that little sign. 1 Thes. 5:18 tells us to "give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." All circumstances? Yes, ALL. Amazingly, giving thanks puts a new spin on things. I can be feeling a little blue and begin to thank the Lord for life's blessings, big and small . . . and my heart begins to change.

Give thanks

My brother, Jeff, is recovering from the operation on his broken leg. We still don't know what the final result will be, but we're thankful that he made it through the anesthesia and the trauma of surgery. Thank you, Lord, for protecting and watching over sweet Jeffrey.

Our dads are both dealing with cancer ~ my dad, with esophageal cancer and Dick's dad with prostate cancer. In the past few months, they have both been through intense treatment, and are getting stronger with each day. Thank you, Lord, that you are the Great Physician. You are working in their bodies in ways we cannot see.

Dick and I just attended a benefit for Hope Clinic. What an amazing place. I'm thankful for the work they do and the lives they save. Thank you for being the Father to the Fatherless and for having a purpose and plan for every life born into this world.

We have amazing children. Whitney and Shawn are here in Franklin. Whitney is teaching a painting class and taking science prerequisites to prepare for nursing school she will start in January. And Shawn has a wonderful job. I love having them live 8 minutes away. Kelsey and Zach are in Oregon, both of them teaching at a private Christian school. I'm asking God to move them somewhere at least east of the Mississippi River! (And you think I'm kidding . . . )
"I have no greater joy than knowing my children are walking in the truth." (3 John 4). Thank you, Lord.

We're about to be grandparents! Kelsey is having a wonderful pregnancy and next month, we will get to see her and feel that sweet baby move around in her tummy. In August, we'll meet this new addition to our family. Can't wait! Creator of ALL, thank you for new life.

Thank you, Lord for
Our homes
Our churches
Our jobs
Good times
Bad times

In everything, GIVE THANKS.

Saturday, April 24, 2010



I'm writing today about a member of our family that many of you will never meet. I (Mel) am the oldest of 4 children. Two years after I was born, my brother Jeff came along. Three years later, my sister, Missy, entered the world. And 7 years after Missy, my "surprise" brother Todd was born. (Todd was an unexpected blessing to our family :)

Jeffrey Shea Ware was born with several handicaps. He has cerebral palsy and is severely mentally retarded. He was a blue baby, somehow not getting enough oxygen to his brain during birth. On one side of his body, he doesn't have a full hip socket, and when he was a young boy he had to have both ankles broken in order to try and align his legs with the rest of his body. (I remember a trip one year where our family drove from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Harlingen, Texas ~ 3 days in a Renault each way. Jeff was in a body cast in the back seat with me and my sister for that long trip. Oh what a memory!) My parents were told that Jeff wouldn't live past the age of 9 years old. In June, my brother will turn 48 years old. In many ways, he is a walking miracle.

Jeff lived in our home until he was about 6 years old, when it became clear that he would better be served and cared for by professionals. We were living in Ft. Lauderdale at the time, and I remember Sunland Center in Miami (only 45 minutes or so away) where Jeff moved in. We would bring him home most weekends to be with us, and our church loved and cared for him with his own private nursery worker!

We later moved to Texas and found another facility that adopted Jeff into their care. This place was about 3 to 4 hours away, which didn't allow us to see him as frequently. But as Jeff grew, we began to notice wonderful characteristics growing into his personality. He loves balls that bounce. Just bounce a ball on the ground or throw it in a basketball hoop and Jeff gets so excited, laughing so hard! Jeff loves root beer. Jeff loves to take off his socks and shoes, have you put them back on, and then mischievously pull them off again.

Jeffrey has only been able to say a handful of words in his lifetime. Not coincidentally, one word he continues to say is "love". When you give him a hug or he just knows you are present, he will utter the word slowly and drawn out ~ "Looovvve". This is so fitting with Jeff's heart. He has always had such a sweet temperament, such a loving spirit. When you are with Jeff, you always receive more than you give.

Several years ago, my dad and his wife moved to North Carolina and had Jeff transferred to another special place, the O'Berry Center in Goldsboro., where he lives now. I've visited the center several times and love, joy and peace permeate every room. It's a pleasure to be there among the residents and the amazing caregivers God is using to serve them.

I'm remembering Jeff today because he will be going into surgery in the morning. His leg has broken, probably just from weakness and age. Through the years, he has lost his sight and other physical capabilities. Having a little mobility is one of the few freedoms he still enjoys. We are praying for a successful surgery, for complete recovery, for peace, for comfort. The O'Berry Center is graciously providing a caregiver to stay with Jeff 24/7 to be his advocate in the hospital. What a blessing to our family!

I was reading Psalm 139 this morning and inserting Jeff's name. "Jeff's frame was not hidden from you when Jeff was made in the secret place. When Jeff was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw Jeffrey's unformed body. All the days ordained for Jeff were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139:15-16) This broken leg is not a surprise to God. He is the Great Physician, presiding over this operation in the morning, watching over Jeffrey . . . never slumbering or sleeping (Psalm 121).

I'm privileged to say that Jeff is my brother, my family, my blood. He has taught me much about unconditional love, about being content, about strength in the midst of weakness. It's amazing to me to think that one day, in heaven, I will meet Jeff ~ whole in body and mind. Wow, what a thought that is! But now, since Jeff may not understand praying for himself, will you join us and offer up a prayer on his behalf?

"Carry each others burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ." (Gal. 6:2)

Monday, April 12, 2010


I’ve worn glasses since second grade. Yes, that calculates to around 43 years of being dependent on some kind of corrective lenses (I started wearing contact lenses when I was 12). Last Wednesday, I had surgery on my right eye to remove cataracts that had formed as a by-product of a detached retina 10 years ago. (Eyes have never been my strong suit). The procedure removed the cataract blockage and also involved removing the actual lens of my eye, replacing it with a perfect lens.

This morning, I had my first official eye exam after the surgery. As I looked at the famous eye chart, I was able to read the whole thing (before the surgery, I could not even make out the huge letter E at the top of the famous chart). After reading "O F L C 3"at the bottom of the chart, I was so excited that I said to the technician, "I need to hug someone!" She was happy to celebrate with me.

I realize how fortunate I am. The technology that is available to us in 2010 is truly amazing. I’m thankful for doctors and researchers and nurses and technicians who study and learn about this vision world. But more than that, I'm thankful to the Lord for creating the eye. Did you know that each of our eyes are connected to the brain by 300,000 nerve fibers? The human eye can receive 1.5 million messages simultaneously.

And then let's consider all that God made for us to look at . . . sunsets, rainbows, butterflies, smiling faces. As I look out on a beautiful Tennessee spring morning, I am stunned at what I am able to view, with my new eye! Blades of grass, feathers on birds, street signs, shadows, light, colors . . . wow! I had thought I was seeing okay before. Now, I'm viewing things in 3D! This Wednesday, I'll have surgery on my left eye After that, I can't imagine how great it will be to look on God's beautiful world.

O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!
Your glory is higher than the heavens.
You have taught children and infants
to tell of your strength,
silencing your enemies
and all who oppose you.
When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—
the moon and the stars you set in place—
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them?
Yet you made them only a little lower than God
and crowned them with glory and honor.
You gave them charge of everything you made,
putting all things under their authority—
the flocks and the herds
and all the wild animals,
the birds in the sky, the fish in the sea,
and everything that swims the ocean currents.
O Lord, our Lord, your majestic name fills the earth!

(Psalm 8, NLV)