Waiting



We pray and we wait.
We wait and we pray.
Waiting and praying
are interconnected.
Author Nevada Barr in the book, Seeking Enlightment, hat by hat writes that "I pray for things of the spirit: compassion, strength, guidance. I pray for the spirit to sustain me when the world sucks and to grace me with humility and generosity when I hit a winning streak."
I pray and I wait. I wait and I pray.
Waiting and praying are interconnected."but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." Isaiah 40:31
Biblical waiting is not a passive, paralyzing, waiting if or in case. It is a waiting for, a waiting that results in strength and courage to move ahead at the right time and in the right way.

What's a blog?


I want to express my gratitude to all of you who have told me that you are reading this blog and enjoying its content. Many of you explained that the "Isaac Papers" are serving as your introduction to the world of blogs. With that in mind I decided to write a brief introduction to this world of blogging. Here is a helpful definition.
Blog is short for weblog. A weblog is a journal (or newsletter) that is frequently updated and intended for general public consumption. Blogs generally represent the personality of the author or the Web site.
Blogs are a recent phenomena and have become a very popular form of communication. I created this blog as a way of expressing ideas and passions about the church, family, faith, and life in general. It is my hope that the "Isaac Papers" will become a creative and interactive forum where you will add your thoughts and ideas. You can pursue information by clicking on the highlighted words and you will immediately be linked to a site that will expand on what I am writing about. For instance, to find out more about the history of blogging click here. You can also share your comments and feedback by clicking on the "comments" at the end of each entry. Then simply follow instructions to leave your comment. This way we can carry on a dialogue. This blog is also a way to challenge my own creativity and writing skills as I attempt to share interesting thoughts and ideas. Thank you for your interest in this humble attempt to promote creativity and humor in world.

Long and winding road to faith


The long and winding road that leads to your door,
Will never disappear, I've seen that road before,
It always leads me here,leads me to your door.
The lyrics of the Beatles song, Long and Winding Road, describe the life-long spiritual journey that I have been on. I have not experienced the faith journey as a straight path from "go' to "Ah ha, I've made it". It's been more on again-off again, mountain tops and valleys, lost and found. I have no patience with those who try to describe the spiritual life as something that can be accomplished in four easy steps or as a program of self improvement. Spiritual growth and enlightenment is a journey with a purpose, a road that leads us to the door of the Divine. Donald Miller, writing in Searching for God Knows What proposes the following.
The truth is there are a million steps, and we don't even know what the steps are,
and worse, at any given moment we may not be willing or even able to take them;
and still worse, they are different for you and me and they are always changing.
I have come to believe the sooner we find this truth beautiful,
the sooner we will fall in love with the God who keeps shaking things up,
keeps changing the path, keeps rocking the boat to test our faith in Him,
teaching us not to rely on easy answers, bullet points, magic mantras, or genies in lamps,
but rather in His guidance, His existence, His mercy, and His love.

answered prayers


Youngest son, John, pictured above with his favorite musical artist, Billy Joel; underwent emergency surgery last Thursday to replace the valve in his vp shunt. This is the sixth revision of the shunt that John received shortly after birth. This young man's story is a testament to God's grace, human resolve, medical advances, the power of love and prayer. Weighing just an ounce over two pounds, hydrocephalic and afflicted with cerebral palsy, suffering a brain hemorrhage; the odds against John's survival were long indeed. But John has not only survived but thrived. He is now 19 year's old and has displayed great musical talent. He is an accomplished vocalist, plays keyboard and harmonica extraordinarily well and is also self-taught on guitar, drums, and accordion. When asked if he was ready to go into the operating room on Thursday evening, he replied; "Get-R- Done!" On Saturday evening, just 48 hours after surgery, he insisted in playing harmonica with our contemporary "Spirit Cafe" band. Each day of my life I am inspired by John's spirit and his commitment to living life to the fullest.

And the beat goes on....

Throughout this weekend I am wearing a blood pressure monitor which takes a reading of my blood pressure every 20 minutes. It has been quite a learning experience so far. Every twenty minutes my life is interrupted by two electronic beeps that announce the gentle squeeze on my arm as the blood pressure cuff inflates. The expression "time flies" has taken on a new meaning. Twenty minutes is experienced as the briefest of times; a moment, a hiccup, a blink of an eye. Each subsequent squeeze is a reminder that time cannot be halted. Each twenty minutes is a precious gift not to be squandered but to be enjoyed.
The cuff's inflation and deflation as the monitor reads my blood pressure is a manifestation of the miracle of the human body. Without any conscious effort on my part, the beat goes on. The heart beats and blood flows through an interstate system of arteries and veins and the result is life. We go about our business, sleeping, eating, loving, working, and playing and the beat goes on. Until this anatomical miracle breaks down we simply take it for granted. On this weekend, every twenty minutes, I remember the words of the Psalmist:
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
(Ps. 139:14)

Reflecting on Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Legacy


I have been thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr. as we approach the holiday named in his honor. The 1/9 issue of "Time" magazine contains some very revealing excerpts from the book; At Canaan's Edge: America in the King Years 1965-1968, the final volume of Pulitzer prizewinner Taylor Branch's three part history of King and the movement he led. On February 4, 1968, King preached a sermon in which he said, "Every now and then I think about my own death." Then he began to imagine his funeral where he hoped that someone would mention that "Martin Luther King, Jr. tried to give his life serving others.....Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum for justice! Say that I was a drum major for peace-I was a drum major for righteousness-and all the other shallow things will not matter."
Martin overcame many obstacles to make his mark on the world. He never had the financial resources and the political power of those who opposed him. Yet, he was victorious because of his sense of purpose and determination. Sometimes in life that is all we have in our corner and it is worth more than we can imagine. Knowing what is important in our life, our values, our "higher calling" can help us overcome the most powerful opposition.

This dynamic is dramatically depicted in the 2004 film, Million Dollar Baby. Clint Eastwood directed this story about an aging trainer, Frankie Dunn, played by Eastwood himself, and a determined young woman, Maggie, played by Hilary Swank. There is a powerful scene where Maggie is fighting for the first time under Dunn's supervision. Hilary Swank's character is getting beaten badly by her opponent, the bell rings and she goes to her corner where she and Eastwood have this exchange.
Maggie: She's tough. I can't get inside. I can't get close enough to hit her.
Dunn: You know why that is?
Maggie: Why?
Dunn: She's a better fighter then you are, that's why. She's younger, stronger, more experienced.
Now what are you gonna do about it?
As the bell rings, Maggie returns to the ring more determined then ever and soon knocks her opponent out.
On this Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday we remember that Martin left a legacy because his spirit and faith would not allow him to accept defeat.

Life Expectancy






"I do not define life expectancy by the length of life, but by the quality of it, by what I expect from it and by how well my expectations are met. What I have learned....is that the more you expect from life, the more your expectations will be fulfilled. By laughing, you do not use up your laughter, but increase your store of it. The more you love, the more you will be loved. The more you give, the more you will receive."
The words above were written by best selling author Dean Koontz in his book, Life Expectancy. I was reminded of them this weekend as I led a retreat for eleven 7th and 8th grade students. For 40 hours we laughed and loved and gave and received. Adolescents have a great capacity for living life to the fullest when encouraged and given the opportunity to uniquely express themselves. I hope these few photos reflect their energy and enthusiasm. I thank them for being my teachers as well as my students.

"Murderball"

I just finished experiencing the "Murderball" DVD. This is one of the most exhilarating and inspirational films I have ever seen. It is a documentary about the USA Paralympic Rugby Team. These quadriplegic athletes demonstrate a level of competitiveness and skill to rival any professional athlete in any sport. The game is played on a regulation size basketball court in modified wheelchairs and is definitely a full contact sport. The wheelchairs are built for both speed and collision as the players crash into one another in an attempt to tip over rival players. The film portrays these young men as complete persons who experience the whole range of human emotion. It was so great to experience a movie about people with disabilities that doesn't affirm stereotypes or portray them simply as people to be pitied. The men in this film challenge our perceptions about them and encourage the viewer to live life more fully. This film is rated "R" for very strong language and a brief segment about the sexual lives of the athletes.

Ordinary Time

Grandsons Jacob and Noah on Christmas Day!

Columnist Diane Cameron, in Sunday's paper, proposes that; While we delight in holidays, we know that our ordinary time is much more precious. Our ordinary days, though they don't often make it to photo albums, are the days in which we are living our real lives. Those of us who are addicted to work, to action, to production; lack an appreciation of ordinary time. We are always focused on deadlines, goals, and hitting the "home run". We experience "ordinary time" as an inconvenience and a nuisance. Ordinary time, to the workaholic, is non-productive and an obstacle to accomplishing what needs to be done.
A recent illness has caused me to adopt a reduced work schedule and experience "ordinary time" differently. I have begun to embrace the truth of Cameron's words that "ordinary time" is where we are living our real lives. It is in the ordinary rhythm of life that we are blessed with the simple gifts that make life worth living. A hug from a grandchild, a meal around the kitchen table, a cup of tea and the morning newspaper, an intimate conversation with a spouse, watching the birds at the bird feeder in the whiteness of a snowfall. These activities are not productive in the way I usually define the word but produce in me a sense of peace and happiness that I have rarely felt before. I guess the author of
Ecclesiastes really did know what he was talking about when he said: