Happy Birthday Margaret. My Mother-In-Law turns 87 today.
“Mom” is still living in the house she was born in. Same house her entire life. Never moved out. Never moved away.
She was one of nine children. Her Mother, “Grammy”, open a one-room grocery store (1927) in what is now the living room in their three-story row home in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Grammy raised nine children, ran the store from early morning to late at night for 44 years.
Her Father, who died in his 30’s, was a shoe cobbler in the the back of the house.
“Mom” has aches and pains like most 87 year olds, an answering machine, and even a Trac Phone.
She is a devout Catholic and prays all the time, even when it doesn’t seem so.
She has shown us unconditional love, simplicity, kindness and generosity, loyalty, and love.
Ladies and Gentleman, may I present Ohio’s Craig Nickoloff, a man who works hard to help make the world a better place for younger generations. Here is Craig’s contribution to our Spirit entitled:
Always will be.
Human nature I guess.
I used to pride myself on doing my best.
Had a re-examination though.
I still pride myself on doing my best.
Peeling away that outer layer, though, reveals a different motivation.
As a school student, I was out to bust stereotypes.
I was a scholar, athlete and musician; and excelled at each. But I wanted to prove that the different castes could get along well with each other. They didn’t have to stick to their circles for comfort’s sake. My target audience was my peers. By peers, I mean not just friends my age, but also family and anyone else who wanted to watch. It was a noble effort, but in the end, I was looking out for myself. I was expending a lot of energy to impress many others.
I got tired.
So, college – a sort of dark time – consisted of me dropping all pretenses and doing what I wanted. Fortunately, I come from a great family and the lessons they have taught me carried me and kept me from going any deeper.
And one key thing here…
God watched over me…
As he does all of us.
And his plan had much, much more in store for me.
God brought a strong, beautiful woman into my life. I don’t say beautiful to brag about her outwardly (which is nonetheless true), but to praise how God has molded her spiritually. He used her to guide me back to Him.
So it is in this state that I sit here, wondering how He’ll use me.
My motivation now is not that of before. I’m not living my life to impress others, not even my wife.
I hate to say it. But, it is possible to do “good” things; be a generally “good” person; live an outwardly respectable, impressive life; but also be a contradictory, no-good liar on the inside.
It’d be exhausting, but it’s possible.
Strip it all down.
Past bare body…
Past bare bones…
Past bare words…
Right down to bare spirit.
me & God.
mano y Omnipotent Creator.
He loves me so much that he’d sent his son, Jesus Christ, to take the entire world’s sins on his shoulders and die.
He knows my heart. He knows my thoughts. He knows my words. He knows my actions.
I get away with nothing.
Is my love for him pure?
Is my faith unwavering?
God gave us free will. It’s so hard to resist human temptations.
There’s a saying, “I’d rather beg forgiveness than ask permission” that helps some to make decisions.
That’s fine and dandy with our peers, as we live out our real-time lives.
But with God, while he is a forgiving God, he knows that that saying went through your head in the first place.
So, the whole procedural “beg for forgiveness” later thing doesn’t work so well.
I recently started a Bible study, published in Tabletalk magazine, with my wife. At the end of each page is an exercise entitled “Coram Deo.” In Latin, it literally means “before the face of God.”
So, going through the actions, through the motions, through the works is a nice thing. But what is it that really serves as the motivation?
I believe that the true calling of a Christian is to live one’s life Coram Deo.
And if I live my life before the face of God and glory in his grace and mercy, then all of the other “good” things will fall into place as I obey his commands.
Those actions won’t be done to prove, they’ll be done to demonstrate.
I’m praying everyday for strength and wisdom to do my best at living my life…