As part of a recent study a Harvard psychologist provided a simple assignment to residents of a local nursing home. In this unique teaching moment, those persons who were usually cared for, became “care providers.”
Half of the residents were charged with basic care of individual green plants given to them. During this experimental study, plant caretakers got sick less often and recovered from illness, more quickly. In some cases, blood pressure levels decreased to more favorable readings. Ultimately, the study showed that the very act of caring for something outside yourself improves overall health.
Well known family therapist, Esther Perel, says, “The most powerful antidepressant is taking care of other people.” To say that within this paradox of giving, there are broadened opportunities for mutual benefits in serving and being served, is an understatement. The impact of volunteering and serving greatly benefits the person providing care as much or more than the one being provided for.
As stated in the lyrics of one of my grandmother’s favorite songs, “You can’t beat God’s giving, no matter how hard you try.” We pray that God will remind us to earnestly share our time and energy with those around us ... ”Blessed are the pure in heart ...”
– Linda I. McDaniel
Published on Thursday, January 17, 2019 @ 3:23 PM EDT
I was in the grocery store the other day searching for an item that Judy asked me to get. Trust me, it is never an easy item like milk, cheese or cereal. No! She asked me to find candied pecans and whole cranberries in a can!
As I was looking for something that most people never use, I got distracted. I ran across a magazine cover that caught my eye Discover: The State of Science 2019 – Top Stories in Medicine, Archeology, Tech, Genetics, Space, and more.
I bought the magazine and I wanted to share a couple of things with you that I found to be of interest.
Plastics and the use of plastics has become a major part of our everyday lives. However, as one stated about plastic: “They’ve also become a persistent pollutant. Some 18 billion pounds of the stuff winds up in the world’s oceans each year.”
Cities and nations around the world are beginning to take action to address this issue but we have to continue to be proactive in recycling efforts.
It seems that globally, frogs are being wiped out by a fungus known as “Bd”. As you might guess, there are also many concerns over climate change. Some scientific practices are raising questions. How do we use genetic technology in a safe and responsible way? How do we continue to interact and connect with artificial intelligence in a moral and ethical way?
If you are interested these issues and others are addressed in the Social Concerns section of The Book of Discipline of the UMC.
The magazine did not just focus on bad news. The smallest fly ever recorded measures less than 2/100 of an inch was found in Brazil. Two new giant penguin colonies have been discovered. A rhino population on the brink of extinction has rebounded in Kenya. There is continued exploration deeper into the solar system and faraway galaxies. The New Horizon space probe that flew by Pluto in 2018 is travelling a billion more miles toward another planetary body nicknamed Ultimus Thistle.
Medical technology continues to make advancements. A potential HIV vaccine is on the horizon. Researchers are looking at Biosensor capsules to detect gastric bleeding and possibly detect presence of diseases. Sadly, the medical field is still struggling to find ways to battle Alzheimers.
The future is always filled with excitement and anxiety. There are things that we look forward to and other things that we dread even fear.
In our own Methodist Church we are possibly facing changes in February. No one really knows what to expect. Yet, I lean into 2019 resting on the faithfulness of God and trusting in God’s guidance. As God states in Isaiah 41:10; “So do not fear, for I am with you. Do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and uphold you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
I lean into the new year with great hope and anticipation of all that God is going to do through the membership of First-Centenary as we continue, together, to seek to make disciples for the transformation of the world.
– Mark Gooden
Published on Thursday, January 10, 2019 @ 3:40 PM EDT
This was the program theme for Orange Grove”s annual Founders’ Day celebration. As I stood in the Fellowship hall of First Baptist Church, Golden Gateway on December 11, 2018, there were amazing sounds of laughter and many smiling faces.
Approximately 500 people were celebrating this year’s accomplishments and many attendees were there to be honored for their faithful service to residents of group homes and other areas.
The many awards included community partners, and I was there to represent First-Centenary. Along with First Baptist and First Nazarene representatives, we were honored to receive the Community Partnership Award for weekly hosting of our Orange Grove family.
This was more than doubly honoring as we count it a privilege to daily welcome these residents to our home. “Boldly Going” is a fitting description of how we are to go about our Lord’s business, and truly applies in the way we continue to meet the needs of others. May we continue to increase our service to those around us and boldly go out of our way to share the love of Christ in and out of season.
– Dr. Linda I. McDaniel
Published on Thursday, December 20, 2018 @ 2:59 PM EDT
Last week in the Advent devotional that Christina and I are reading entitled God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas we were reminded of the faith and faithfulness of Mary.
“To be anxious is to be human. The question is what we do with our anxieties. The decision is between hanging on to them or handing them over. After listening to the angel, Mary handed over herself, including her anxieties – ‘behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.’ That is Mary’s great fiat – ‘Let it be.’ It is not fatalism, but faith. Fatalism is resigning ourselves to the inevitable; faith is entrusting ourselves to the One who is eternally trustworthy, who is worthy of trust... Faith is not blind faith, but trust with eyes wide open. Faith does not deny the reason for anxiety but rejects the rule of anxiety.”
The weeks leading up to Christmas are always busy. Christmas parties, the pressure of family requirements, additional financial burdens, loneliness or depression can all add extra anxiety around the holidays. Are you hanging on to them or handing them over? What might it look like to trust with eyes wide open this Christmas? To say “Let it be,” reject the rule of anxiety, and receive the gift of Christ.
Published on Thursday, December 13, 2018 @ 3:47 PM EDT
Dr. Steve Seamands was a professor I had in college. He tells a story in his book “Give Them Christ” of a 1962 Christmas newspaper story…
In 1962, the Christmas Day edition of the St. Petersburg, Florida, Times had two front pages. “In keeping with Christmas spirit” the editor explained, “only good news will appear on the front page. For a full report on other happenings around the world, see page 3A.”
So true to his promise, the front page had only good news that day. There was a picture of the Pope standing on the balcony blessing those gathered in St. Peter’s Square, a story of a church helping a needy family, another about pilgrims entering the gates of Bethlehem. And best of all, there was a large picture of Santa Claus, stretched out on a patio next to a swimming pool, with his boots off and toes wiggling in the warm Florida sunshine.
The other front page included the real headlines: Cuban freedom fighters retreat; masked gunmen grab $100,000 in Chicago; father and nine children perish in fire; civil war rages in the Congo; government is overthrown in Tunisia. (p. 33-34)
Dr. Seamands goes on to point out that Jesus was not born into a good news; good vibes nor good times kind of world. If you look at Luke 1 and 2 you see rulers who were ruthless and very cruel. King Herod was willing to do whatever was necessary for him to keep his power (Matthew 2:16-18 NRSV). Jesus came into this world to face the world as it was - chaotic and troubling. He did not get a pass on suffering. Remember what is written in the Gospel of John: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us” (1:14). I truly appreciate that phrase – “lived among us”. The message by Eugene Peterson reads that Jesus “moved into our neighborhood”.
Dr. Seamands writes more about Jesus living among us. He states that; “He was born in a smelly, unsanitary stable, forced to flee as a refugee from his native country, raised in poverty, spurned by the religious establishment, run out of his hometown, misunderstood by his family, betrayed by one of his own disciples and executed as a common criminal. We could go on, but the point is, from the cradle to the cross, for Jesus to live was to suffer”. (p 34-35)
Jesus knew the joy of weddings, and friendships but he also knew the pain of despair and death. Jesus lived among us and knows how we feel. Jesus did not learn this second hand or by distant observance. No! He was among us. He felt the sun on his face, the sand between his toes, and cool water that quenched his thirst.
During this season of Advent may we celebrate Christ coming to live among us! May we turn to Christ to help us celebrate the good things in life and may we also turn to Christ to help us deal with the “not so good” things in life too. Good news, He is living among us now!
Published on Friday, December 7, 2018 @ 8:34 AM EDT