Monday, January 20, 2020

How Important Is Understanding?

Our son who lives in Northern Indiana attends a weekly men's Bible Study and frequently leads the study.

When we were up there over the Christmas and New Year holidays, it happened to be his turn.  Dick always goes with John to these meetings and especially enjoys being there when his son is the leader.

Although the study was focused directly for men, I also found it to be meaningful to me and knew it might also be timely for many of you.

John began with this introduction:

"Men, my One Word for last year was, "Understanding".  We will walk through why things happen and how it affects our faith through the reading and discernment of God's word."

Last year did indeed bring some trials for John and it was critical for him to find some degree of understanding from it all.  In the end, he came to realize that God had chosen to use certain events and decisions by others not only to protect John, but to also show Him grace and purpose.  It brought him and his family closer together and to the things of God and the importance of waiting for His perfect timing.  In the process, God also granted him a degree of understanding.
Following are some of the points from his notes and discussion:

Scripture Reference (James 1: 2-5)
Key Verses: ² Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, ³ because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance".
Many times men (and women - my addition) believe they are “in charge” but when faced with major obstacles or failures in their lives, don’t know what to do or where to turn. This can be true even for Christian men.
One of the reasons men act this way is that God created men to “be strong.”  We are to make a living, support our wives, lead our families in Faith and help others.  Men are strong or act strong so much of the time that sometimes it is hard to let go and fully trust God.  Many times, it is not until we face trials and failures that we are fully open to realizing God’s Love is perfect and can handle “anything” we face.
As it says in James 1:5, "If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." 
  1. Have you ever experienced times in your life when you thought you knew something and then found out you were mistaken? Or, after the fact you realized you should have known better or anticipated a major problem.  
Prayer should always be the starting point when facing obstacles, trials, or failure in our lives. The ultimate source of all wisdom is God, who in James 1:6 says, "But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind."
Studying James helps us realize God wants to support us. James is overflowing with Truth that is relevant to “all of life’s circumstances.” The benefits from reading James begin when we truly pray and trust Him completely.
James 1:12 says, "blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him." 
Two questions to help us consider how the passage applies to our life.
1. If we fail any given test in life does that mean we forfeit all that God has promised? Where does temptation from our trials originate?

In James 1:122 it says, "do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." 
2. The message here is quite clear. How will you put this into practice tomorrow? The Next week? The rest of your life? 

  1. Isaiah 43:2 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze." 
           What does this Scripture say to you personally? When faced with major troubles do you think            you can let go and trust God? Remember the last time you faced an overwhelming problem or            obstacle. Do you think praying would have helped you get though the issue? Will you pray               next time you face similar problems? Why?

2. 2 Peter 2:9 it says: "if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the Day of Judgment."
How does God know about our trials? How do you know God will always be there for you when you are enduring a major problem in your life?  
    3. 1 Peter 1:6-7. "In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials.  These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith— of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed."
This Scripture talks about “for you to be sad for a while” and “to prove your faith is genuine.” Do you think we can become closer to God without the trials and tribulations we face on earth? Why? Do you believe the sole purpose of our trials and problems is to “test us and our faith?”

Right now, we know specifically of several families going through horrific tragedies and loss.  A dear friend who has fought MS and numerous other health issues, died last week; a friend who founded and has pastored one of the largest churches in Northern Indiana has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and has had resign; a friend who was once over the European JAG Corp and made brilliant military decisions, is in a daily decline due to Alzheimers; a young family we have known for many years, found their daughter and granddaughter dead this past weekend.

There are national tragedies that cause us to question God's plan.  There are big and small things that affect us daily that beg for understanding. When this happens, God is the only answer.  Turn to His Word and seek Him.

Being the son of a Minister of Music, this hymn came to mind and John found it a very appropriate closing to his study.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

"Great is Thy faithfulness!" "Great is Thy faithfulness!"

Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—

"Great is Thy faithfulness, " Lord, unto me!
"Great is Thy Faithfulness"
William M. Runyan


Thursday, January 16, 2020

Fun Times With the Bride-To-Be

The Bride said "YES" to the dress!

Because all the sisters of the bride and groom are college students and home for the holidays, this was the perfect time to go bridal dress shopping.  McKenna's older sister Alyssa, is in medical school in Seattle, Savannah is a Junior at Trine University in Angola, Indiana, and Mary-Elizabeth is a freshman at Xavier University in Cincinnati.

Image may contain: 4 people, including Deana Ann Hummel, McKenna Hummel and Savannah Day, people smiling, people standing and shoes

So right after Christmas, we all made a trip down to Indianapolis to shop at Sophia's Bridal.

These two grandmothers could not have been more thrilled to have been part of this special time.

All I will say about McKenna's choice of the perfect dress is that it is truly perfect for her.  And it was the first one she tried on.  This is a girl who knows what she wants and is decisive.  This was such a fun time for all of us and I can't wait to see her wear this gorgeous dress down the aisle and to see Jackson's face when he sees her.

The following week, we went to select bridesmaids dresses.

This sunshine girl found her dress immediately and brought sunshine and fun to whole day.

Each girl found her style and McKenna picked out the color.  I'll save that for the wedding as well.

We had so much fun watching the girls pick out their style and I agreed with everyone on their choices.  They are all so different and I admire McKenna for allowing them to make that choice.

The following Saturday after New Years, McKenna's parents hosted an engagement announcement brunch in order for us to meet some of their closest family members.

The food was both beautifully prepared and delicious.

Mark, McKenna's dad prayed the sweetest blessing over the food and couple.

Grandmother and aunts

Michelle with Savannah and Mary-Elizabeth

Proud parents/friends

Both maternal and paternal grandparents

Close Johnson cousins

I love this picture of the Hummel family because it says so much about each one's personality and their closeness as a family

Hummel family plus one!

This 6'4" 300 lb gentle giant has never found a tree he didn't want to climb.

Thankfully, McKenna loves him just the way he is!  And has for a very long time.

This grandmother loves him too.

Thank you McKenna and Hummel family for allowing us to be part of such a joyous and sweet time in the life of our grandchildren.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A Fairy Tale Love Story

I want to share with you a real life fairy tale love story.

When our son and his family moved to Northern Indiana in 2008, Jackson was entering the 8th grade.

He was immediately befriended by a group of three guys, Matt, Blake and Brad who all had sports in common.

2011 Blake, Jackson, Matt

2011  Jackson, Brad, Blake

This group of boys spent all their time together, often spending overnights together at each others homes.  The first time we met the boys was when they came over to play Christmas games with us when they were all in the 9th grade.  We knew they were keepers when they were willing to sing carols they really didn't know.  We fell in love with everyone of them on the spot.  We claimed ourselves to be their Louisiana grandparents.


 Junior Year Football Banquet 2012


Matt and Jackson

Naturally, the three families developed friendships, taking trips together and supporting each others children in all their endeavors.

Blake, Matt and Jackson with their siblings.

The boy's Senior Spring Break trip with all the families 2013

Brad played hockey so was not in the football pictures but he was his buddy's biggest fan.

Even mothers and sons enjoyed trips and outings together.

2014 road trip to watch Jackson play his first year of college football

Best friends together 2015

Families and friends 2016

Best friends even drive from Northern Indiana to Dallas, Texas to watch their buddy play in the Cotton Bowl - 2016

Best Friend reunion for one more overnight sleepover - 2018

Jackson, Matt and Blake all had younger sisters who were always on the scene and part of game nights and family gatherings.

Specifically, was Matt's little sister, McKenna.

In 2008, McKenna was 10 years old and in the 6th grade.

As her mother tells it, one night when all the boys were playing games down in the basement of their house, McKenna announced confidently to her family, that she was going to marry Jackson Day.  Needless to say, this secret was kept from Jackson.  To Jackson, she was always, Matt's little sister.

McKenna's mother told me that because of her long-lasting crush on Jackson, McKenna always wanted her picture taken with him at the football banquets.

McKenna and Savannah

Both Jackson and McKenna dated other people all through high school.  Once McKenna was in college, and knowing of her feelings for Jackson, Deana, McKenna's mother told her it was time that she follow her heart.  So her sophomore year in Nursing School at Indiana University, and Jackson a college senior at Western Michigan, McKenna knew "It's time!"

She invited Jackson to a sorority dance on December 1, 2017, and for the first time, they were together as a couple.

And a beautiful couple at that!

Evidently, this was a perfect evening for both of them and they spent a lot of time getting to know each other as individuals and not just as Matt's little sister, and Matt's best friend.

It didn't take Jackson long to know he wanted to spend more time with McKenna but was concerned about taking their friendship in a new and different direction with all the family dynamics.

So what did he do?  He called his friend Matt and expressed his desire to date McKenna but not without Matt's permission and blessing.  I understand that Jackson told Matt that he would not do anything that would adversely affect their special friendship.

Matt's response?  "We have been brothers since 8th grade Jackson, we may as well make it official.  I want you to date my sister and see where it goes with my blessing."

And that was the beginning of this sweet fairy tale love story.

Exactly two years later to the day, on a special traditional family Christmas tree trip, Jackson proposed to Matt's little sister.

We could not be more delighted with Jackson's selection of a life-time partner.

McKenna is a very bright, intelligent, driven, and strong young woman.  Needless to say, she is beautiful, energetic and loves the Lord.  She is the perfect fit for our grandson.

Dick's best Christmas present this year was being asked to perform the wedding ceremony of these two on October 10, 2020.

What a blessing that will be for this Da!

Part of what makes this a fairy tale is the fact that McKenna's mother, Deana married her brother's best friend, Mark Hummel, McKenna's father.  Also, the couple will be married on her grandparent's 61st wedding anniversary.

The Hummels are already like family, we just have to make it official.

Sweet, sweet story!