Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On Sunday, May 16, 2010 at 11:31 PM


Kim and I and all associated with simple-truths would like to thank you for investigating Gracie’s tab; we pray your moments here will be fruitful. God blessed us with Gracie almost three and a half years ago; during that time she has been a great blessing as well as a great teacher.

Gracie is a child born with Down syndrome; she has been an extra special gift from the Lord. In her short time here on this earth she has reached more people with the love of the Lord than most adults. Her smiles, hugs and waves have captivated thousands in church, the neighborhood and any store she happens to be in. Gracie has shared with us her own unconditional love and taught us more than any seminary could about the true unconditional love of God. We only thought we knew it before.

Our desire is that you will use this sight as a resource of hope, encouragement and education. Our hope is to develop the sight further as we grow in our own understanding of the gift that is Gracie.

God Bless,

Richard and Kim

Psalm 139:13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

Insight For Living:

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 11:29 PM

God Knows Your Ways

Beach Balls

May It Be as You Have Said

Getting Out the Door

Oh, the Places You'll Go

Becoming Real

Dependence

Second Homes

Grace Awakening

It's Okay

One Step at a Time

Two Horses

A Tough Assignment

Tending Sheep

Playing Hooky

Back To School

Where Are You Looking?

Ocean Transformation

The Neighbors

Bitterness

Crisis Today, Mentoring Tomorrow

Deep Courage: Walking with Adversity

The Report

The Report

The Gift of Grace

When Hope Returns

The Simple Truth

In Abundance

10 Essentials of a Healing Church

It's Free!

Somewhere Down the Road

There is Growth in the Valley

You're not Alone

The Catcher

Reflections

The Little Troll

Weeds

Challenges of Siblings

Celebrating 20 Years of the Americans with Disabilities Act

Celebrating the Influences of a Mother

What Does “Trusting God” Mean?

Journal

Do You Believe?

Bubbles

Committing to the Road Less Traveled

“Believe”: Sometimes Found in Stars over the Porch

Attitude Check

Where Did January Go?

Changing Our Minds, Changing Our Lives

Good Attitude

Thick Glass

2010 Something Better

A Weekly Gift For You

A Busy God

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 10:59 PM


Life does not always go as you plan. You may like to set your own course, but God has His own agenda. You may plan to be a businessman in a big company, but He may have planned for you to teach children in an inner city school. You may have planned to teach children all your life but God may plan for you to be a missionary in a far away land. Who knows? God does.

My plan over the last almost nine months was to celebrate the birth of my seventh child somewhere around the first of February. In order to make that plan work, we did all we could do. My wife had a sonogram that showed a perfectly healthy baby, perfect being the key word. She took care of herself the best she could. The pregnancy went as planned, really without flaw. We had done this six times before and my mind was at ease that this time would be no different. And then….

We went to the hospital around 10:30 pm on January 26th. The family joined together in the waiting room as we always have. The excitement grew and after several hours, at 5:25 in the morning, little Gracie Harris was born into this world, just as planned. And then…

The nurses joined around little Gracie, and I knew something was not right. They said little and went right to work. After a few minutes they told me they would be taking her up to the Intensive Care Unit. This still did not make me too nervous; I had been there before with another baby. After everyone was settled in, a doctor entered my wife’s room and delivered the news that our new child had several serious health issues and was born with Down Syndrome. Life does not always go as planned.

This started the longest day of my life. My emotions took every turn possible as we struggled with the unexpected news. There were phone calls to make, a family to worry about, and a child with sudden needs to concern myself with, both long and short term. My mind raced, my stomach had a knot in it and my eyes were wet with tears. And then…



God got busy. First he sent someone from the hospital, a fine Christian woman to talk to us. She had a sweet spirit, a calming voice and helped bring us back into the light. She gave us information but did not overwhelm us. She listened to our questions and set about working to answer them. I will never forget her smile. Without a doubt, God sent her our way. And then…

We walked into a room with a child filled with wires, and standing next to her was a young woman named Glennis. She had a good spirit, a friendly smile and was working hard around our child. Her words were comforting, informative and caring. She, too, will not soon be forgotten. But God was not through. He just kept sending nurses to baby Gracie’s side that were just like Glennis. They all were the best, and it gave us comfort as we left our child in their hands. A group of servant angels sent to care for God’s little children. They were a Godsend, no doubt. And then…

He kept right on working. God sent a Filipino nurse who loved God for my wife. She missed Kim at first because she was with our baby. But she kept coming back until, the third time, she caught my wife in her room. She had been on that floor for 25 years. She brought with her experience, but more importantly than that; she dripped with sincerity and a love for God. She had a message for us. She told my wife through tears that she knew we had a special family because she had never met a family gifted with a Down Syndrome baby that was not very special and close. God gave her the words and she delivered them, right on time. She continued to come back with more words of encouragement, more smiles, more hugs and more tears until my wife was discharged, a little angel, with special tears and a beautiful smile. And then…

God wouldn’t let up. He sent a young chaplain our way with a listening ear, a sweet spirit and a strong prayer. He delivered more than a pink Bible; he delivered a spirit of peace. As I listened I was reminded of how good God is and how He has a plan for our lives and Gracie’s as well. And then…

God wouldn’t stop. As I made phone calls to relay the message of Gracie’s long- and short-term health issues, each call was a ‘gut wrencher’. But with each call, words were said that should have been said years ago. Closing words like I love you, words like whatever I can do. There were quite moments of tears during some, but strong words of encouragement from all, words of prayer, love and peace. Each phone call was another visit from God.

Life does not always go as we plan, but God is always in control. He is not surprised by the turn of events in our lives. He is ready for them, and just when we need Him the most, He gets busy. And you see Him like you never have before.

A perfect sonogram revealed a perfect baby. The world may think differently, but God has His plan. As I look back over the last six days I am sure the sonogram was right on the money -- a perfect baby, planned and placed by a perfect and busy God. Thank you God, for your grace and for Gracie.

· I realize this I am not the first person, nor will I be the last, that God has changed the course of their life. Each of you has faced sudden changes. Today take a moment to recall how God worked in those moments. Maybe there is a card of thanks that needs to be sent, or a phone call or just a praise to God offered up thanking Him for being there in a critical moment.

· Perhaps you are in the process of that sudden change. Your emotions are raw; your life seems to have lost its balance. Know this: God understands. He is there. Though circumstances change, God never does. That’s good news. Fall in His arms this day, there is safety there.

Scriptures:

Psalm 34:17-19,

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. A righteous man may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.

Same verses in The Message

‘If your heart is broken, you’ll find God right there; if you’re kicked in the gut, he’ll help you catch your breath. Disciples so often get into trouble; still, God is there every time.

Lamentations 3:21-23,

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope; Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Proverbs 16:9,

“In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.”

Prayer:

Dear Lord though we do not always understand your ways we are thankful for your presence. Help us not to worry about tomorrow but to lean on you for strength each and every day. Indeed, great is your faithfulness, and no doubt it is fresh and new each and every morning. We praise you for that. We ask all these things in the name of our loving Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Put a Steeple On It

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 10:58 PM

What goes on at church? If it is a good one then, of course, Christ is mentioned often and He is worshiped. That should be a given. But there are other things that make a church strong.

Let me name some. Things like people sharing freely with one another, each member being able to share without any fear that they will be looked down upon for what they say. Fellow members should mourn with their brothers and sisters in Christ when sad moments come and celebrate with them during the joyous ones. There also should be a commonality between the members; they should be able to relate to one another’s feelings. A good church knows no prejudice against people of any race, education level, or social status. All should be working for the common good of each other, selflessly putting others before themselves.

Having said all that let me lead you to a wonderful church. Where is this church? It is on the 7th floor at Baylor Hospital in the Neonatal Intensive Care waiting room. I have been a member for a month now and have grown to love it and its members. As much as I love it, I must admit I am looking forward to moving my membership back to my previous church just as soon as possible.

So why, you may ask, am I calling a waiting room a church? Because it has operated as one, and perhaps even better at times. First, all of us current members have one thing in common. We have a sick baby that needs critical care. This fact alone is enough to create a bond that has helped us to build friendships that will last in our memories forever. This bond starts conversations over things like, “How is your baby doing?” “How long have you been here?” “When are you going home?” “How is the other twin doing?” “Where do you live?” There is one subject and one subject only that is a priority -- our babies.

With the subject in focus we have learned to pray for one another. The name of Christ comes up often. Here there has been no question of God, only the mention of His name when we talk about praying for one another, or thanks to Him for his provisions during a difficult time. Funny, but on the 7th floor denomination is rarely mentioned but Christ often is. Barriers of religious politics and denominationally fighting do not exist when you are a member of the 7th floor church.

I am a preacher, and I must admit that I have talked more about God to strangers in the last month than in any other period of time in my life. By the way, who needs preachers here? Everyone has a testimony; everyone has a word to say. At times it is said through tears of heartache and at others through tears of joy. Let me tell you, I have no trouble staying awake for their messages either.



You might think this is a sad church filled with misery. Think again. Though our focus is on our babies, we have had a great deal of time to share with one another about our lives. There have

been moments of laughter. God has used this church to cut through the pressure with moments of joy. Amazing? Not really. When God is involved, when there is freedom of sharing with one another, laughter seems to follow.

Now any good church needs a good outreach leader. We have the best; he is my 20-month old son. This guy will walk up to anyone at anytime, no matter of age, race or gender. And of course he is so cute (writer’s prejudice) they cannot resist him. He has created more conversations and more smiles than I ever could have imagined. With him as our outreach leader we have been able to meet all kinds of different people and welcome them into the 7th Floor Church Of The Waiting Room.

For one reason or another, churches in this day and time have become show oriented, more concerned with the personality than the person. Rarely does real fellowship develop. Deep meaningful conversation is a rarity. Until that changes, church will be cold lifeless places where few lives are changed.

If you’re looking for a good example of church done right, visit the 7th floor. I am thinking of putting a steeple on it before I leave.

Take a look at how you do church today. Are you a surface person, only going through the motions of playing church? Staying on the surface is safe, but it is not church as it was intended to be. Who knows? You may be the engine God uses to get a whole new church started; one that reaches and changes lives for Him.

Scripture: Jude 20-22,

“But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in our most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear-hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Prayer:

Dear Lord, we thank you for your church and how it ministers to believers and to the lost. Help us to be faithful members, motivated by the love of Christ as we live out the remainder of our days here on earth, awaiting your soon return. In Christ’s Name, Amen.

The Road—I would less like to travel by

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 10:58 PM

I hesitate to continue to refer to my experience over the last seven weeks because I understand that they are my experiences not yours and that I may feel them deeply but you probably don’t. With that risk in mind I need to share another devotional thought with you, this time about going where you don’t really want to go.

Who ever says I want to loose my job just as my kids enter college, or who says I am so glad I lost my wife at such a young age? Who says I am so glad my kids have been rebellious or my parents are in great need of care and I have no room to care for them or money to pay for it. While I spent my days in the NICU I noticed a group of great people but I never noticed anyone really rejoicing that they were there.

I must admit people who have it all together during difficult moments make me nervous and extremely skeptical. Some of course do have it all together but the majority are just like you and me are just trying to cope the best they know how and are taking it one day at a time.

If we had our way of course we never experience difficulties in life. We would sail right alone and the sun would always shine, good health would be our constant friend, our kids would always mind not to mention they would always do well in school. Our boss would give us the money we deserve, our family would be the picture of harmony and we would never argue with our spouse.

Here is the deal, we don’t have it our way and so many times in life all of us will have to travel roads that we would just as soon avoid. Seven weeks ago I was expecting the normal; good pregnancy for my wife, healthy baby born, the family celebrates, the insurance pays, the baby comes home in three days and life is great. That unfortunately was not in the plans and thus I have begun to travel an unfamiliar road of hospitals, insurance issues, government programs not to mention at first disappointment. Fear of the unknown has become a constant companion. I have learned new meaning to the words ‘taking it one day at a time’.

If I would have had the choice of course I would not have traveled this road, but no one asked me and hear I am. I am sure of this God had something in it for me, something to draw me closer to Him. He has used it to draw me closer to Him and to reveal Himself in ways I never knew existed. So what if I had traveled my road, what would have missed? Good question and here are some answers to that.

  • I would have missed the chance to be a real father to my family, helping them through difficult times. I had become lazy in that area and had a sudden wake up call.
  • I would have missed the chance to be a better husband. Meaningful conversations, holding hands, helping with chores, protecting her from business aspects as she cared for our child and crying together would have been missed. I feel closer to my wife than I have in a long time.
  • I would have missed my older children stepping up to the plate in a big way. I would have missed seeing them act as adults which of course they are but it is hard to admit. I would have missed watching them love and care for Gracie. I would have missed them crying and holding her with compassion.
  • I would have missed meeting a whole set of people whose very life is to care for sick babies and there families.
  • I would have missed a hundred conversations about God that would have never happened otherwise.
  • I would have missed sitting with people and really for once understanding at least a little how they feel.
  • I would have missed some great phone calls with close friends and some family members I had not talked to for months or years.
  • I would have missed seeing how really wonderful my church family is. I had watched with admiration as they cared for people in the past and now I was able to receive it. What a family!
  • I would have missed knowing what it really means to ‘feel the prayers’ of friends, family and people I do not even know.
  • The biggest loss is I would have missed holding Gracie and looking in her eyes and loving her so much. Wanting to whisk her in my arms and make sure life is good to her.

I could have gone on for another three pages but I believe you get the point. Would I have traveled the road no, but look what I would have missed. I know I have just begun a new journey in life but I am certain God is there with me because he has proven to be there for me as we take the first steps.

It is hard to see at times but God has a plan for our lives and I am thankful He reveals it to us slowly; otherwise of course we could not handle it. Maybe God has started you on an unwanted road; know this He goes there with you, know this He cares for you and know this He does not waste any experience in life on you, each one comes with a purpose. Sometimes the lessons learned are hard but with God they come with a purpose.

I am no expert on difficult roads many of you have been on them for years and have far more experience than I. But this I know; Gods light shines brightest on the roads we lest want to travel.

Scriptures: 2 Corinthians 1:3&4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.

Prayer: Dear Lord, we honestly do not understand your ways. We struggle with tough roads and circumstances; we ask not that you show us the reason why but that we simply feel your presence while on the journey. You are a good God and we praise your name that you care for us and walk with us! We ask these things in the precious name of Jesus our Savior.

Everybody Needs a Wave

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 10:57 PM

Waving the lost art. Often at work I will walk within two feet of someone and never make eye contact and certainly not wave. Walking down the street I will see folks and many times just keep right on going. What about those scary people, you know those rough looking characters that look like they might knock you on the head and steal your billfold, do you ever wave at them. Hey I don’t know about you but that just is not happening. I keep my feet moving and my head straight ahead, the only wave I am thinking of is a wave to the police to let them know I am in trouble.

We live in a world that has lost the art of waving. Too bad, because I hang out with someone who is bringing it back and bringing it back with style.

Gracie, my two year old knows no limits to waving. When we are in a restaurant she has a smile and a wave for everyone. Often we are just sitting there in our own world and we look over at the table next to us and they are smiling and waving our way. I am thinking what is going on, then I turn and look to Gracie and there she is just waving away. You want a smile? You want a wave? Just turn it over to Gracie and complete strangers who would have never given you a second look are waving and smiling like you’re their best friend.

Of course we all love to be friendly at church, sure we all say hello but seldom do we wave and rarely do we get a big smile, hello and a wave. At the place where Gracie worships there is one place to get a wave, wherever Gracie is. Walking down the hall there she is, sometimes she points and then waves. Most every time there is a smile associated with it and that smile gets even the hardest of hearts every time. People at any church disagree from time to time but there is no disagreement, Gracie brings a smile to all without a word. Just a smile and a wave, yes she is bringing it back.

What about those tough guys I talked about earlier. Hey everyone deserves a wave at least that is what Gracie thinks. When we walk in the park from time to time we will see some undesirable looking folks. Maybe there talking some loud ugly trash, maybe they look like they slept at the park the night before. Certainly they have few smiles for me and that’s okay because I have few smiles for them.

Gracie as is her nature knows no boundaries when it comes to the wave and these rough looking folks are no different. She will look their way and before you know it the hand is moving and the smile is showing. Then I slowly glance over to see what the response will be. Nine times out of ten it only takes a moment and slowly but surely they will give a wave, who can resist?

What can be learned from this lost art that Gracie is bringing back and the reaction it creates, here are few thoughts?

  • Being friendly is contagious, it is hard to resist, if your are friendly most people sooner or later will give in and start to soften there exterior and give you a chance.
  • Like a hug; a wave and a smile says I like you. It helps the receiver feel good about themselves.
  • A wave takes no effort but pays off large dividends.
  • Everyone deserves a wave, no matter your situation all need to know someone is paying attention to them and cares for them.

Gracie knows no enemies, just loves everyone. She smiles when she sees you and she enjoys waving at folks. No matter if they smile or not, no matter if they wave back or not, she is still throwing out those waves.

Do you want to make this world a better place? Do what Gracie does. Smile a lot, wave a lot and don’t be picky about who gets one, give one to all! Join Gracie in bringing back the wave and creating a friendly world.

Scripture: Proverbs 15:30, “A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart, and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle.” The Message

Prayer: Dear Lord, walk with us and help us to live out the joy you give us in our hearts. Help us to give smiles to all people, no matter what they look like or where they sit in life. We ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

The Disability of Choice

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 10:55 PM

Three years ago when our daughter was born she had several complications that required some extra time in the hospital. The first aspect of her health that we found out was that she was born with Down syndrome. This syndrome can carry with it many differing health issues and also most importantly varying degrees of mental retardation. Within hours of her birth we knew she would have some learning difficulties and would have some very special needs.

We also knew that life would be a little unsettled for a period of time. With that in mind and six other children to care for, we chose to keep most things close to the house and as routine as possible.

One of those activities was basketball for my seven and nine year old. As had been the pattern in the past I happened to be coaching both of these teams. In order to keep some normalcy in their life I would come home from the hospital in time to practice once a week with them and then we would all make it to the games on Saturday.

During our time in the hospital we received support from our family and our church, we were greatly blessed. We also received support from these teams and the families on those teams. Most of that support came in the form of prayers, meals and gift cards. One form of support came at me from a direction I was not prepared for and has impacted me to this day.

On one of the teams I had two assistant coaches. When they first asked about how the baby was doing I told them of her condition. One was very supportive and gave encouraging words and then offered to pray with us and for us. The other coach kept strangely quiet.

After practice had finished and most of the children were leaving he asked if he could talk to me and of course I agreed. He began at that moment to tell me of his older son, not the one on the team. He told me that he had been born with severe autism. I could see the intensity in his face and hear the sincerity in his voice; this man was not just speaking to me from experience he was speaking to me from his heart.

He told me how his wife had tried with all she had to keep and care for their son. That he had the mental capacity of a 3 year old but was in his late teens. He could not talk to or communicate with them. He shared that he would have outburst at home and in public places. Finally the strength of this beloved son was too much for this mother. At that point they had to make the unbearable decision to put him in a home nearby so that he could have the constant and professional care he needed.

At that moment in my life his words were the last thing I wanted to hear. Though I may not have wanted to hear what he had to say I am sure now that this was a God ordained conversation. I needed to hear it and this dad needed to share it. Looking back there is no doubt that God was in all the details of that season, placing his younger son on my team for this moment.

As the season progressed I got to know the wife a little better and she would check on Gracie. One day again I had another God ordained moment in a conversation with this mom. She shared her heart with me for several minutes and then she said something I will never forget. She said that if they had their disability of choice for their son; it would have been Down syndrome. Those words struck me and still do to this day; disability of choice. Looking at it from a three year perspective I know where she was coming from and it has really made me think.

While some people like my daughter and my friend’s son are born with disabilities most of us choose ours. With that in mind this is what I am absolutely certain of; we all have our disabilities of choice. What is yours?

Do we choose addictions or greed? Do we choose a hateful and disconnected spirit? Do we choose selfishness, pride or lust? Do we choose bitterness over forgiveness? The definition of the word disabled says, “To make somebody unable to perform the activities needed to earn a living or carry out the basic task of daily life without difficulty.” Does that sound like your disability, it sure sounds like mine.

Just as sure as I am that we all are disabled to some extent I am also sure that God is there each and every day to help us overcome our disabilities. Without His help we would be unable to make it day to day.

Your disability of choice; you can either embrace it and live your life short of what God has for you, or you can choose God and overcome it. The decision is daily and it is ours to determine.

Scripture: Jeremiah 1:18-19, “Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land-against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD.” Just as in Jeremiah’s day the Lord is still in the business of rescuing his people!

Prayer: Dear Lord, we bring our needs to you this day, we bring the things to you that have overcome us, that defeat us and that make our life less than it should be and we lay them at your feet. We know that you desire the best for us and so we ask for your strength to overcome our weakness. We thank you that you love us and desire the best for us. You are a mighty and great God and we ask all of these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Dr. of Hope

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 10:54 PM

Almost to the day three years ago I handed Gracie, my three and a half year old, off to surgeons for heart surgery. I will never forget her face as she looked back at us from the arms of a nurse who was taking her to surgery. Thanks be to God and a group of gifted doctors she came through that surgery brilliantly, I know it does not always end that way. From day one Gracie has provided many lessons to the Harris family.

Gracie has taught us much and much of that lesson has come from the people who care for her. The day she was born a doctor came and told my wife while she was alone that it looked like Gracie was born with Down syndrome. We did not expect the news and the way he announced it did not come with a great deal of compassion. His bed side manner was not one of caring and compassion but of ‘fact delivery’.

Which brings us to the next doctor we dealt with. A nice man who obviously knew what he was doing. He had the unenviable job of confirming the pervious diagnosis. He did not pull any punches either and told us exactly what we needed to know about the present and gave us a little news to take with us about the future. A person needs the truth but they need hope as well, if it is available, it is almost always available. According to these first two doctors the present did not look good and the future looked worse.

We had a sick child, with a diagnosis we knew little about and a family of six other children to consider. Our plates were full; thankfully God sent support other than doctors to help us walk through those first days, without that help we would not have made it. But we still had to deal with doctors; that is when God sent the doctor of hope.

After the first week a nurse befriended us and grew to love our family. She knew we were not excited about the doctor that was treating Gracie. We had never been in the NICU setting before and did not know there were options.

This nurse knew all the doctors in the NICU and so she made a move that has changed our life dramatically, she had us moved to a new doctor. This doctor knew all the facts the others knew, he quickly was on top of Gracie’s situation but from that moment on there was a new spirit and new attitude. It was one of hope for the future and for the short term. It was one of your baby is special and important to me. The difference was not in what the doctors understood it was in how they communicated it. (Christians pay attention to that sentence)

This doctor has been with Gracie for these three and a half years now. He knows her, takes time for her and grills Kim and me over how we are going to take care of her in the years to come. He holds us accountable for taking good care of Grace and we appreciate and share his concerns. We are a team of people who care for Gracie.

He talks about the future in positive terms. We know she will have special needs, she will need special attention and that at times her abilities will be limited. We also know she can light up a room; she is the most popular person at church and among our friends. We know she has taught our family how to love in a new way and we know that God has great plans for her in the future.

Fortunately our doctor of hope has helped us to focus on those positive elements as opposed to the less positive ones while keeping our focus on her needs. Trust me that can be done.

No matter what your job or where you go in this world you have a choice. You can either be a person who hands out disappointment, despair and hopelessness or you can be a person who is a provider of love, hope and peace. You will be one or the other.

Certainly we as Christians are called to communicate in a Christ like manner here are some tips I learned from the doctor of hope:

  1. When we deal with people, remember they are people. Read the Gospels and you will find that Jesus was a very personal God dealing with each pain as if it were his own. In a world where people feel like just another number a personal touch goes a long way. The truth does have to be dealt with but it can be dealt with in a compassionate way. This is where our personal experience of pain, hurt or disappointment can help us to convey empathy.
  2. There are almost always options. Be an option person, if there are obstacles in front of you look for a way around them. We tend to see things from a short term and narrow perspective. Our doctor of hope kept giving us the facts then working on the options, it gave us hope. He never gave up on us or Gracie. We as people tend to give up on folks and situations too quickly.
  3. There is always a bigger picture. When in crisis mode we tend to see only the smaller view, help others see the bigger picture and they can find hope for the days ahead. Ask yourself how is God working here.
  4. God is in control. If God is in control and he has a plan then that can help us to have the peace and hope that comes from knowing he is there.

No matter what job, position or volunteer post I have ever held I have always run across people who desperately needed hope. We live in a world filled with pain and Christ has sent us into the world to be his missionaries of hope and love.

From one doctor to the next while in the NICU little changed physically; Gracie still had Down syndrome, she still had trouble breathing and she still had issues eating.

So what changed? What changed was the perspective from which we dealt with it and the attitude of those serving us. Pay close attention to that last sentence and you too will be a doctor of hope.

Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Matthew 9:36, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, help us as we deal with the hurting world around us to be most like you. Help us to set aside our selfish and self centered tendencies and see the world from your eyes. We thank you for your love and care for us and we ask these things in the name of Christ who loves us so, Amen.

Everyone Should Have an Extra Chromosome

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 10:52 PM

I have seven children and all have changed me in one way or another. I have a great love for them; they have made me laugh, smile, cry and really given me more purpose to live than I could have ever had without them.

Number seven was born with Down syndrome and she just turned one last weekend. Her birth has changed a lot of things about how I see life, about my priorities and about God. I am most grateful for her and for the change she has made in me if not seen on the outside certainly on the inside.

Children born with Down syndrome are born with an extra chromosome. This causes a variety of issues for whatever reason. There are mental handicaps as well as some physical ones. Often Kim and I will look at each other and say do these kids get a break at all?

Here is what I have found out about children like Gracie. They are sweet beyond measure. Gracie for certain has a smile that melts everyone’s heart. She has a spirit unmatched by anyone around her. Without fail everyone I have talked to with a child with Down syndrome have shared with me what fun they are to be around and how good spirited they are.

The word normal has become one that bugs the devil out of me over the last year. For instance many believe I have 6 normal children and one well I guess is abnormal. I beg to differ and I am not sure there are not 8 abnormal people in my family and one normal one.

Us normal people hate, get angry, cheat, lie, are rarely as happy as we should be and have to work at putting a smile on our face. Is that what God thought of when he was thinking of normal? We do unspeakable harm to one another, are capable of holding a grudge for years and when it comes to forgiveness we fall well short of what the Bible expects. Is that what God thought of when he was thinking of normal?

Here is a thought; maybe that extra chromosome is normal and those of us without the extra chromosome are abnormal. Maybe God created us to have joy and to show love and to have smiles that break across our face in an instant. Maybe he meant for us to be innocent and to love all things and all people no matter what they look like or even no matter what they had done in the past.

Perhaps that was normal before the fall and after Adam and Eve sinned he took that chromosome away. Maybe ever once in a while instead of creating people with a disability what God is really doing is creating people in His perfection and the rest of us can’t understand it because we are missing something.

Is what I am saying absolute truth, probably not, but I know this there is something missing in our lives that only God can replace. Something Gracie already appears to have; contentment, happiness and unconditional love.

We are sinful people with a sinful nature, living in a broken world and only God can fix it. He chose to do that on the cross and through the power of His Holy Spirit. Many are looking for happiness, joy, peace and contentment and let me assure you God holds the key.

When we get to heaven I assure you we will be a lot more like Gracie than she will be like us and that will be a good day.

Disabled?..........I wish we all were.

Scripture: Psalm 139:13-14, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall no perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.”

John 10:10, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, we are thankful that you sent your son to die for our sins. That you love us and that one day we will be able to spend eternity with you in heaven. We thank you for those you send into our lives who teach us how to love and how good your love really is. We ask these things in Christ name, Amen.

The Pharmacist That Delivers

Posted by Richard Harris | | Posted On at 10:51 PM

You need to know that there is a CVS and Walgreen’s on every corner in my city. On top of that there are plenty of local pharmacy’s around that would be more than glad to take my business. So you may ask the question and it would be a fair one, “why do you travel 25 miles to the pharmacy?”

Good question, easy answer. Because the one 25 miles away cares for the one I love. When my girl was born nine months ago she was on a host of medicines. That was fine while she was in the hospital but when we brought her home the medicine came with her. The hospital told us of a pharmacist just around the corner that could take care of us while we got our feet on the ground. Though the medicine intake has dropped a great deal we have never left.

So you might ask how we know this pharmacist cares any more than any other. Glad you asked and I am ready to share. At every visit to pick up medicine she would always ask about how the baby was doing. I would wait out in the car and my wife would go in and it would take her a while because of the good caring conversation going on inside. I did not mind the wait. After a while we started to take our Gracie in and the pharmacist would make it a point no matter how busy she was to come out and visit with her.

**I knew she loved the one I love because she did not just take our money and say have a good day. She took the time to know us, to speak to us, thus creating in us a good day because we knew someone really cared.

Then one Friday we could not get to the pharmacy in time to pick up the medicine that must be given every day. That is really bad news because the pharmacy is only open Monday through Friday. So what does our pharmacist do? Does she say sorry tough luck, should’ve gotten here earlier. No she tells me where she is eating dinner and I drive over after work and pick it up. There she is at a table full of friends and family waiting for a stranger to come pick up the medicine. I will never forget the scene.

**I know she loved the one I love because she was willing to inconvenience herself. She gave unselfishly.

Just before Gracie went in for open heart surgery we had to go by the pharmacy. Somehow she already knew what was happening. She came out from behind the counter and cried as she told us she would be praying for us all. Friends that is worth a 50 mile drive!

**I know she loved the one I love because her genuine emotions showed it and on top of that she was willing to really pray for her.

One last time last week we could not connect on the medicine for several reasons. So the temptation was to go somewhere else and get it. Out of nowhere on Sunday afternoon we get a call from a number we did not recognize. Who was it, you guessed it. It was the pharmacist that delivers. She was already on her way from her house in another city to mine. There was no stopping her. I stood in my yard as she dropped it off. She smiled we said thanks and she was on her way.

Unbelievable; that is what people who really love God are. Their love for others is real, there is no ulterior motive. There desire to go the extra mile is amazing. They drip with real emotion, not the phony stuff or service stuff most people share, it is genuine.

When you find a pharmacist that delivers you stay with them. When you find a real lover of God, the same occurs you just want to stay with them.

Scripture; 1 John 1:7-10, “Dear Friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble.” NIV

1 John 1:9-10, “Anyone who claims to live in God’s light and hates a brother or sister is still in the dark. It’s the person who loves brother and sister who dwells in God’s light and doesn’t block the light from others.”

Prayer: Dear Lord, we praise your name for people who come our way and shine your light of love on us in such real ways. Bless them, give them peace and watch over them. Have us to follow in your footsteps as they do. In Christ Name Amen.