Advanced Health Care Directive of Robert Todd

Hi, I’m Robert.

I go completely by Mitch, my middle name, unless we’re talking about legal documents.

And today, that’s what we’re talking about.

Specifically, I just put together my own “Advanced Health Care Directive”. Otherwise known as a Living Will.

It took me 5 minutes.

Here’s why I made this a priority today.  A friend of mine asked me to.

She just lost her husband. He was 58 years old.  The heart failure and coma were out of the blue and unexpected.  After a painful week or so of brutal decisions and waiting and praying, he passed away.

In response to all the many offers of help, she had only one request:  If you haven’t put a Living Will together, do it now.

So I did.

Most of us don’t like to think about the end.  It’s only another transition, of course, to what lies beyond, but sometimes those transitions are traumatic for those left behind.

A Living Will is basically a statement about what you want – or don’t want – done with your body if you should ever become incapacitated.

Would you want to stay on life support, even if there’s no hope of recovery?

Would you want to be fed?

Would you want pain medication?

Would you want to be an organ donor?

That’s about it, really, along with officially dedicating someone to be your representative should such a time ever come.

I went online to try and fine the easiest and cheapest option for creating a Living Will. By far, the best choice I found was this site:    http://www.totallegal.com/livingwill2.asp

There are other sites that make you join a trial membership or pay for the document, but this site puts it together for you, no strings attached.

I typed in some easy information, selected my choices, and downloaded the document. When I had it printed out, I had two folks here in the office witness me sign it, and they signed as well.

And I was done.

That’s a minor hiccup in my day’s plans, but some day it could be a source of great relief to my wife. I’d say it was time well spent.

It feels good to have made this a priority today. I feel like I’ve done a faithful and loving thing, and I hope you’ll do the same.

Remember,

Making a Living Will

Is an important part of

Living Well.

Have a great week,

Mitch

A is for Anxiety

So here’s what happened to me yesterday…

I was at my locker getting some books and came across my World History textbook.

Oh no!  I realized I hadn’t been to a single class, and final exams were tomorrow!

And then I woke up.

———————–

Even though I haven’t been in school for years, I’m apparently feeling some kinship with all the students headed back to school this week.

This week everyone is dressed for success and jumping into a new routine. It’s exciting! But let’s also remember:

School may be fun, challenging, or downright boring, but at some point in the semester…

School = Anxiety.

There’s the anxiety to fit in and the anxiety to make good grades.

There’s the anxiety of adolescence, and the anxiety of questioning authority.

Running through it all is the great big anxious question:  “Who am I becoming???”

It’s no wonder so many of us have recurring bad dreams that take place back in school.  It’s the time in our lives when we asked that question the most fervently .

It’s a question I’m still asking. You too?

I read an excellent article in The Atlantic that talks about how much anxiety Americans carry around, especially students. Here’s the link.

Anxiety seems to be the watch word for many of us.

Hmm.  Remember Jesus’ thoughts on worry?

Essentially, he said, “Stop and smell the flowers.  Tomorrow will take care of itself.  Worry never accomplished anything.”

Wow.  That’s a different message than the world gives. If only we could truly live like that.

What if life could have the freedom, grace, and joy that Jesus describes in Matthew 6?

Easier said than done, I know.  But less anxiety would make school (and life) less painful at times.

Here’s some quick advice (from a non-parent) for reducing anxiety with the student in your life:

1.  Remind students they don’t have to do everything.  Even though our culture promotes participation in a million projects/clubs/teams, the whole idea of sabbath is for resting and recharging on a regular basis. Stop and smell some lilies.

2.  If you’re going to pay for A’s, find a way to reward character, too.  In the long run, emotional intelligence may be more important than book smarts!

3.  Focus on your own body, mind, and spirit, and encourage your student to do so as well.  God cares more about our healthy souls than our report cards. If you model a healthy life, your student will be more likely to adopt one as well.

4.  Covenant to go to church together.  Then go out to lunch afterwards.  If that’s all the family time you have in a week, it will at least be quality time.

5.  Dream together. Plan family trips. Visit colleges. Take up fun hobbies.  Look to a future with hope! (Jeremiah 29:11)

 As I think about the challenges of today’s youth, I realize they are the challenges of today’s culture, placed in a pressure cooker.

Releasing some of that pressure makes for a healthier student.  And the truth is, we’re all students, aren’t we?

So as we begin another season of learning, here’s my wish for us:

I wish us less anxious days…

And far sweeter dreams.

Have a great week,

Mitch

Your About-Face

Meet Csanad Szegedi.

I know, looks hard to pronounce. Actually, it’s a Hungarian name.

I can’t say he’s one of my favorite guys.

He has been one of the leading figures of the far-right Jobbik Party, and he is well known for his outspoken anti-semitism.

He’s publicly blamed the Jews for ruining his country. It’s been part of his platform. He has been overtly anti-Jewish for years.

That is, until he discovered that he is one.

I guess in Hungary it is not uncommon for people to keep their Jewish heritage private.  Well, a year or so ago, someone finally told Szegedi the truth: He’s Jewish on his mom’s side.

Yep, his grandmother lived through Auschwitz. His grandfather died in forced labor camps.

Oops!

Apparently, Szegedi is still reeling from this revelation.

At first he resisted. He tried to bribe someone to keep the info from getting out, but it did. Now he’s been dumped by his own party, and is being asked by them to relinquish is role as an EU representative.

His whole life has turned upside down.

This week, amazingly, he went to visit a rabbi. He apologized for any offensive comments he might have made.

He vowed to journey to Auschwitz and experience his family’s history.

Can you imagine? A man who actually founded an organization that hearkened back to pro-nazi groups, now facing the rest of his life as “one of those” people he had previously detested.  (You can read the whole AP story here)

What an amazing about-face. Reminds me of Paul.

Paul (Saul) starts out as a vicious hunter of Christians, until an intervention on the road to Damascus causes him to do an about-face. The rest of his life was spent promoting the very religion he once persecuted.

When we say somebody’s “seen the light”, we’re referring to Paul’s incredible transformation.

Will Csanad Szegedi see the light? Will he ever become a Jewish activist? Stranger things have happened.

They may even happen to you.

Could you have an about-face in your future?

Maybe you’ve been loving alcohol or drugs or pornography instead of God.  Maybe you’ve been hating your body instead of loving it. Maybe you grew up hating a certain group of people.  Maybe you’re running from God’s call in your life.

Maybe it’s time to turn around.

Sometimes it happens slowly, and sometimes all at once.

For Szegedi’s sake, and yours, and mine,

Let’s just pray God’s light shines…

On our about-faces.

I DON’T CARE

From time to time, I’ll be watching the news or surfing the web and I’ll hear about the world’s woes.

And I won’t care. About any of it.

I’ll think, “Let the world shoot itself in the foot. Let horrible people do horrible things. Go ahead, world, bring me your worst. I shall not be moved.”

Ever feel like that? Like a hardened lump of clay? Like there are so many terrible headlines, so many series of unfortunate events, that “keeping the faith” seems impossible?

That’s when the negative stuff begins to blur.  It’s like static. White noise. Too much bad stuff.

Oh no! The Church is failing.  The Economy is failing.  Crops are failing. Marriages are failing.

And you know what?

I DON’T CARE.

(Except I do.)

When they come at me too fast and furious — Water-cooler  conversations with co-workers, headlines on the radio, breaking news alerts on my phone — it adds up to a wall of pain that I can hardly imagine, much less imagine overcoming.

It’s overwhelming, so I convince myself I don’t really care. I pull myself out of the equation.  I pretend like I’m a bored observer, watching a tedious movie. I disengage.

There’s a word for this kind of a response.  It’s called APATHY.

APATHY is a coping mechanism.  We make ourselves bored because we’re afraid to interact with our environment.

APATHY sits back and  feels numb. APATHY is the paralysis of faith.

I don’t want to feel that way. Do you?

Certainly, it’s not the kind of living that God has in mind for us.

So how can we fight APATHY? Here’s 3 quick suggestions:

1. Apply filters.  Watch one news report instead of three.  Thin out your twitter feed. Stay connected to the world, but not enmeshed with it.

2. Memorize the Serenity Prayer, and live by it:

           God grant me the serenity 
            to accept the things I cannot change; 
            courage to change the things I can;
            and wisdom to know the difference.

3.  Follow Jesus.  Jesus had the weight of the world resting on his shoulders, and still he managed to keep his focus and passion.  You want to know how to do that? Do what he did.

I may still have the occasional overwhelming day when I say I DON’T CARE, but to be honest,   I think few phrases are more offensive to God.

After all, when God breathed life into us…
there was no intention of us staying lumps of clay.

Have a good week,

Mitch

Coincidence or a “God thing”?

You know what I did for the first time this week?

I finally watched the Wizard of OZ while listening to Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon.

Many years ago somebody figured out that the movie and the album – produced decades apart – were somehow in sync with each other. And there’s some truth to it!

When the wicked witch first appears (in human form) there’s a big crashing sound. When Dorothy walks on a wooden beam the song talks about balance. A few songs seem to start at the perfect moment. Weird, and definitely surreal!

Is it just a coincidence, or some strange form of divine connection? Is this, somehow, a “God thing”?

Well, I wouldn’t think so. But then again, I do apply that label to lots of strange occurrences.

  • I was short on cash and an unexpected check came in the mail. GOD THING!
  • I was thinking about a friend and they called me that day. GOD THING!
  • I threw open the Bible to a random page and the perfect verse was right there. (John Wesley did this all the time) Clearly a GOD THING!

Right? Well…

Have you heard about the condition called “apophenia”? Here’s the definition (according to Wikipedia):

Apophenia is the experience of seeing meaningful patterns or connections in random or meaningless data

  • …like in a providential piece of mail amidst a whole week’s worth of junk mail.
  • …or in a well-timed phone call out of a thousand phone calls.
  • …or even in a random page in a book already full of God’s truths.

So, if a film and a movie made 40 years apart seem to sync up, it’s because when we go looking for those connections, we’re bound to find them. Even when they don’t have any real meaning behind them.

Which brings me back to “God things”. Atheists will sometimes use the notion of apophenia to explain away religion and religious occurrences. To them, belief in God is simply our desire to find order in a universe that’s really just chaos.

Hmm. There really are a lot of little coincidences that I ascribe to God, even when I know they may have been just random.

I call lots of things “God things,” and I wonder, what if they aren’t?

And then I get nervous. Am I kidding myself about this whole “God thing”?

Am I living in a fantasy land, somewhere over the rainbow? (Or on the dark side of the moon?)

But then it occurs to me:

Some folks want to look at this amazing world and see evidence of apophenia.But that’s not me.

I look at the world and I see evidence of God. And you know what?

That has made my life meaningful, rewarding, and hopeful.

In my book, friends…

that’s no coincidence.

Have a great week,

Mitch