Religion

                     William Holland

Living on purpose with William Holland

If you have visited a nursing home or a medical-care facility, you doubtless know what I mean when I refer to such places as difficult and uncomfortable. The sights and sounds are difficult for our emotions to process and this explains why many folks would rather avoid them altogether.
I have heard people say they do not like hospitals, nursing homes or funerals and this is usually because they provoke us to think more deeply. When we look around and witness how other people are coping with aging and health problems, it is a normal response to live in denial as the old saying “out of sight – out of mind” reminds us.
However, there is really no need to dread or live in fear about our future because, whatever we might go through, God reminds us in Psalm 27 that He will always be with us and take care of us.
A good friend who is a highly intelligent and humorous newspaper editor in Texas shared a story with me recently about his experiences with nursing homes. He told me that, many years ago, when he was still living in England, he was the chairman of his home town’s carnival association. This was a nonprofit committee that organized an annual festival that included an elaborate parade featuring the annual carnival queen and her court of two princesses. These beautiful young women had been the winners of a beauty pageant during a gala the previous fall and were now ready to go on tour.
As a part of the carnival promotion, the association would take the girls to surrounding cities and have them participate in other parades and public appearances, thereby optimizing its fund-raising potential for local charities and other worthy causes.
My friend tells how it was easy to enthuse the royal court to attend these festivities
as they would quickly make friends with other local celebrities, along with meeting swarms of potential suitors along the way.
On each official outing, the carnival queen wore a white wedding-style ball gown and crystal crown and the two princesses wore colored ball gowns and crystal tiaras. To all the children they met, they were, indeed, touched with the magic of fairytale royalty.
However, with all of the attention and star status, there was one stop on the tour that was not considered glamorous. The girls were required to visit a facility for physically and mentally disabled patients
on Christmas Day.
Each year, my friend found himself trying to persuade these “rock stars” to devote part of that day to spending time with patients whose severe handicaps would break your heart. Every Christmas Day morning, it was a part of his duty to collect the girls and chauffeur them to the hospital and, with absolutely no hint
of his own inner apprehension, convince them that what they were about to do would forever change their perspective of life.
Each year, a new group
of celebrities would enter the hospital with trepidation, obviously intent on getting the ordeal over and done with. However, surprisingly, these young ladies would stay at individual bedsides far longer than anyone would have expected, hugging and chatting with children who could hardly speak. The mask of pride and pomp quickly melted into a sobering realization that many innocent people live each day with misery and suffering.
As they embraced the elderly, my friend could sense the power of compassion that was creating waves of gratitude and humility in everyone present. He said that, at the end of their year of office, the girls always thanked everyone for giving them the opportunity not just to spread some fairytale magic to the chronically unfortunate but also to realize just how blessed they were themselves.
Members of the clergy are more likely to be seen in prisons and healthcare facilities but we do not need to be an ordained minister to brighten someone’s day. It is precious to develop friendships with these individuals and I know there are many lonely people who would simply love to have someone visit and talk with them.
I understand that it’s a sacrifice to pull away from our busy schedule but, according to Matthew chapter 26, this is an act of compassion that reveals the heart of God.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

Living on purpose with William Holland

It’s amazing to think that, without light, there is complete darkness. Thank God, every morning He directs the sun to rise, which allows most of us to see without stumbling and having to feel our way around like a blind person.
Spiritually speaking, we were all born into spiritual darkness and are only given our vision when we invite Christ to transform us into a new creation. Another exciting reality is that no amount of darkness can extinguish even the tiniest light, which confirms that, as creator, God’s authority is greater than that of any other power: “And the light shines in darkness; and the darkness cannot overcome it!” – John 1:5.
When we are children, it’s common to be afraid of the dark because our natural instinct does not trust the unknown. We imagine creatures that can see us and are waiting in the shadows to grab us. As adults, we laugh at how silly this sounds, but fear is associated with our fallen human nature and, even as adults, we are still faced with the temptation to be anxious and worried about what we cannot understand.
It is only when our mind has been renewed by the word and spirit of the Lord that by faith we can trust Him and know there is nothing to fear as long as we are holding his hand: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1.
I remember as a child, probably no older than six or seven, my parents planning an exciting adventure to Mammoth Cave. I recall that we followed a large group of people into the cave as a tour guide explained about the aragonites and stalagmites and so on.
There was decent lighting as we moved deeper through the damp tunnels but it was still a little scary for a wide-eyed kid. Anyway, we finally came to a place that opened up into a huge room – technically called a “chamber” – that included a steep drop-off that in my mind was nothing less than terrifying.
People were saying it seemed to have no bottom and I was definitely not going to the edge to confirm their statements. Yes, there was a flimsy railing to prevent someone from falling into a delightful Chinese restaurant but, nonetheless, I was not taking any chances.
Suddenly, the guides intentionally turned out the lights and – I am not exaggerating – you could not see your hand in front of your face. Of course, they were trying to make a point about total darkness and, believe me, I was completely convinced.
It did not help that I had somehow drifted away from my parents just before the black-out and I remember during those few moments feeling a huge sense of relief as I had both arms wrapped around what I thought was my dad’s leg.
When the lights came back on, I was calmly trying to adjust my vision when I looked up into the face of a complete stranger. Yes, in the chaos, I had attached myself to some poor man and was embarrassed to say the least. After my frantic parents found me, for the rest of the tour my mom was either holding my hand or had a firm grip on my jacket.
You know, thinking about how dark it is in this world without light gives us a hint that eternity will be the same way. God’s word proclaims that Heaven will be forever filled with the brilliant light of his presence.
Revelation chapter 21, verse 23, says: “And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof”. Then, in verse 25, we are promised there will never be darkness or night.
John chapter eight, verse 12, says: “Then spoke Jesus unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that follows me shall never walk in darkness but shall have the light of life”.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

Living on purpose with William Holland

Life has its ups and downs and no one is exempt from struggling every now and then. We’ve heard that how we react to situations is a key to how much peace we can maintain and I certainly believe this is a nugget of wisdom.
For example, when someone disrespects us, it is common to allow the insult to develop an infection. However, these are times within our journey of learning to pray and ask God to help us look past our pain and direct our focus and trust on Him.
I admit that this is very hard to do because, when we are wounded and trying to deal with damaged emotions, it seems we cannot think of anything else other than how we feel.
Nonetheless, it’s possible to take these times of discouragement and not only use them as a ladder to help us climb out of our pit of sadness but to actually rise to a higher level of peace and contentment.
In Song Of Solomon chapter two, a Shulamite woman and her king are in love and their dialogue is a beautiful expression of romance. In verse 15, she mentions how little foxes damage the grape vines by chewing on them and eventually hinder their ability to make wine.
To make a long story short, the foxes represent our frustrations and aggravations while the vines are symbolic of our relationships, especially with God. The Shulamite woman is trying to warn her future husband of the importance of keeping their emotions in check by being aware of the negative forces that will attempt to impede their marriage.
This is not only true within the home but in all relationships. Importantly, the story reminds us that the foxes might be small but many times it is the little things that cause huge consequences. When others take advantage of us and fail to appreciate what we do, instead of wasting our emotional energy pouting and developing a negative attitude, we can be much more effective by taking these burdens to the Lord in prayer.
We have become used to living in an age of instant gratification and, unfortunately, this can bleed over into our spiritual thinking. We have a tendency when we say a prayer to expect immediate results and, when we do not have an answer by the end of the day, we move on to something else.
Let us consider that this is not always how the spiritual realm works. Have you ever experienced a stressful trial and, as you were searching for answers, it seemed that God was silent? Maybe He was quiet for his own reasons and then it could be that we were not listening. In order to hear his still small voice, we need to be very close to Him.
As believers, we are not to approach God and demand that He respond or else. Heaven is not a vending machine into which we put in our quarters and our problems are fixed.
God is our heavenly Father who is completely aware of our situation and, within his plan to help us, it is for us to have patience and submit to his will. Knowing Him is all about trusting Him even when it seems that no one else cares or understands.
In the book of Ephesians, we are given the explanation about our spiritual armor and, if we notice, the helmet and breastplate are given to protect our mind and heart from the dangerous arrows of words. Satan, the enemy of our soul, loves to use words against us because he knows how much damage they can inflict.
When we are confronted with negative circumstances, we are tempted to absorb this agony within our soul, which in turn triggers our response mechanism to unleash a flood of pessimistic reactions. Unfortunately, anger, sadness and low self-esteem have literally ruined many people’s lives.
Whatever emotional pain you are going through today, realize that God wants the best for you. Guard and protect your conscience from the irritating distractions of hurtful words and embrace the absolute truth of his promises. He loves and respects you and will never fail to take care of you.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

Living on purpose with William Holland

We are all growing older. Thanks a lot, right? I realize that many will think this is not a very optimistic or positive thought but, nonetheless, it is a reality. I could have gone all day without hearing that; however, as with other topics, this too has a certain amount of accountability attached to it that can make a huge difference between dreading the future and maintaining
a healthy and positive attitude.
Recently, I could not help but notice a picture of Stan Lee on the front cover of a magazine, and was amazed at how great he looks for 94 years old. He is no doubt enjoying the fruits of his labors from creating fictional characters such as The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Spider Man, just to name a few.
Amazingly, he is still creating new figures, creatures and comic books and, of course, providing the inspiration for an endless supply of highly successful super-hero movies.
As I continued reading about Mr Lee, it appears that his highly active imagination gives him the energy and excitement that fuels his relentless work ethic. He does not entertain the retirement mentality because his imagination provides him with a continual supply of enthusiasm and motivation.
I am in and out of nursing homes every week and know several men and women in their nineties who will astound you with their outward appearance as well as their very sharp minds. I always ask about their secret to enjoying a long life and the common reply is that hard work made them tough.
I have also noticed that most of them keep busy and have certain activities to which they look forward. As with Stan Lee, we notice that people who are active, whether physically or mentally, seem to possess a built-in optimistic anticipation that motivates them to keep pushing forward.
Older people who are still mentally strong are keenly aware of current and future events. They keep up with what is happening and have their own opinions, which
is a healthy form of independence and inspiration.
May we keep a tight grip on our faith in God and focus on positive thoughts that can increase our awareness and help keep us young at heart. Frank Lloyd Wright once said: “The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes”.
I cannot overemphasize how important it is to retain hope and faith in order to retain a positive attitude for the future. If we lose our expectation that good things are coming just around the next corner, we will have nothing joyful to live for and will become vulnerable to falling into a state of negativity and discouragement.
I have heard throughout my life that you are as young as you feel and I can say that some days I still have a pep in my step, for which I am grateful.
One tip that I will pass on to readers who are now being given “senior discounts” is the benefits of walking. My wife and I walk around the neighborhood in the evenings and I am amazed at how good I feel once we get going.
Stretching the legs, relaxing and taking a breath of fresh air can do wonders for the body and mind. Deuteronomy 34:7 tells us: “Moses was 120 years old when he passed away. His eyesight was not impaired and he was still vigorous and robust.”
As we become more mature, another great idea is to stay in contact with family and friends. It’s good to explore new adventures, to write letters, visit acquaintances, attend church and other types of event and make some lasting memories with those we care about.
Maintaining a hobby is another excellent idea that can help keep us mentally, physically and spiritually stimulated.
Raising a small flower or vegetable garden is a wonderful activity that not only gives us some physical exercise; watching something grow can also invigorate us with expectation and a sense of appreciation from day to day.
I like this quote from Betty Friedan: “Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength”.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.

Living on purpose with William Holland

One day at the beginning of the month, I was sitting in my office on a dreary afternoon, tapping on the keyboard and listening to the rain blowing against the window. The house is quiet during the day as my writing routine commonly includes both of our dogs sprawled out on the hardwood floor snoring contently around my desk.
Then it suddenly dawned on me – the 14th of the month would be the fortieth Valentine’s Day my wife and I have shared together. I sat back and pondered about our also upcoming wedding anniversary and how very happy I am to share this milestone with the one I love.
I am confident that Mrs Holland feels the same way but might be a little self-conscious as I blow the trumpet about us being together for four decades. Nevertheless, it has been amazing so far and throughout both the hard times and the good times.
We are truly blessed.
Familiarity is a slow-growing deception that causes us to take people for granted and, in the realm of marriage, it is one of the main reasons why couples become distant from each other.
Readers who have been married for a while can surely relate when I say that holidays and other celebrations – especially Valentine’s Day – gradually lose a little of their sparkle and excitement and I guess it’s partly from a combination of getting older and becoming more familiar with your mate.
For example, when we are newlyweds, the flowers, gifts, candy and going out to eat at a restaurant seem like a magical fairytale. It is so exciting just to be together, gazing into each other’s eyes and hardly thinking of anything else.
But, as the years pass by, the newness seems to wear off and now, after a hard day’s work, it’s mutually agreed that a peanut-butter sandwich, a candy bar and watching Wheel Of Fortune is plenty of excitement to celebrate the occasion.
Whatever happened to all the hugging and holding hands?
Have you noticed how the first years of marriage are filled with a series of three little words like “I love you” and “You are beautiful” and then, after a few years, they evolve into “Toilet seat down” and “Need more Advil”?
When we were younger, we didn’t know the meaning of tired and now we become giddy about taking a Sunday-afternoon nap. Nonetheless, it’s a comfort to know that the person who shares our couch with us every night is there because they love us and enjoy being with us.
As Valentine’s Day is part
of a week dedicated to love, let us embrace the moment and think about the one who stole our heart. There is no need
to wait for a certain day of the year to express our romantic feelings as we can surprise our beloved with our affection all through the year.
The point is that it’s important to let our spouse know we are thinking about them and we appreciate them. We assume that they already know we love them, and they do, but there’s nothing wrong with showing our love more often.
By the way, we are not guaranteed how many years we will have with our spouse, which is another reason to cherish all the moments we have together.
We can also turn to the Bible as a wonderful source of wisdom on this subject, as it reminds us of our responsibility to honor our vows. As we lit the unity candle, we made a pledge that having God at the center of our marriage would bond us together and should always be our highest priority.
We do not need to be a marriage counselor to come up with a few ideas that can improve our relationship with our spouse. It’s not the price or intrinsic value of what is given at this time of year but rather the genuine sincerity of why we are giving it.
I would prefer to have someone give me a Reese’s peanut-butter cup while telling me how much they love me than to receive elaborate expensive gifts out of obligation. Let us remember that God is love and that having constant communication with Him and our mate is not an option if we desire to maintain a close relationship with both of them.
Kentucky resident William Holland is an outreach minister, chaplain and author who has his own Christian website, billyhollandministries.com, and sets out each week to find thought-provoking messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement for our readers.