A mother enters her daughter’s bedroom and sees a letter on the bed. With the worst premonition, she reads it, with trembling hands:

Dear Mom,

It is with great regret and sorrow that I’m telling you that I have eloped with my new boyfriend. I found real passion and he is so nice, even with all his piercing and tattoos, and I love riding on the back of his big motorcycle.

But it’s not only that mom, I’m pregnant and Ahmed said that we will be very happy in his trailer in the woods. He wants to have many more children with me and that’s one of my dreams. I’ve learned that marijuana doesn’t hurt anyone and we’ll be growing it for us and his friends, who are providing us with all the cocaine and ecstasy we may want.

In the meantime, we’ll pray for science to find the AIDS cure, for Ahmed to get better, he deserves it.

Don’t worry Mom, I’m 15 years old now and I know how to take care of myself. Someday I’ll visit so you can get to know your grandchildren.

Your Daughter,

Judith

P.S. Mom, it’s not true. I’m next door at Sandy’s. I just wanted to show you that there are worse things in life than my report card that’s in my desk drawer. I love you,

How bad can things really get in a persons life? It seems that I am constantly dealing with people who have messed up their lives in a way that nearly always leads to destruction in one form or another. Are there some people who are just born unlucky, as some believe? Are there those who are destined from birth to be cursed for life? Born under a wrong star? Wrong parents? Wrong state or city of birth? Do these things matter or is there another reason things go wrong in a persons life?

I do not think that you can state that all of the circumstances in ones life don’t have an impact on the future. Undoubtedly, a person born with a disability, one that is not able to walk, or see, these challenges certainly would make a difference. However, it is my firm convection that it is not the problems in life that destroy you but rather the way you look at these things that make a difference.

I just recently came across a book written about the mind of those who have committed serial crimes. According to the author, Dr. Helen Morrison, there are no particular circumstances that have produced men like John Wayne Gacey. Interesting isn’t it?

We have been led to believe that these monsters have been molested, beaten, drugged and deprived of the necessities of life. These killers are, nearly always, men. There are no life situations that are common ground for these serial killers. Upon the death of John Wayne Gacey, his brain was taken and studied by all of the social science experts of the day. There were no abnormalcies in his brain. The only ways that these killers are alike are in the way they looked at life.

While in college, I studied abnormal psychology. I never did study normal psychology. Do you know why? There is no such thing as normal. They, the experts, have no idea what is normal psychology.

Most lives, I believe, can be turned around by a simple process I call "reframeing." That might not even be a real word. I am a counselor, and a preacher, not an English major. I was standing in a shop that sold a great many prints of paintings. I noticed that there were some prints I really liked. There were others, just like the ones I was attracted to that I didn’t like. It took me a few minutes but I finally saw the difference. The frames made the difference. I cannot change the print of ones life, but I can help a person put a new frame on it.

Humans tend to look at the bad things in life. In the news business it is said, "If it bleeds, it leads." People want to read about the bad, the ugly, the baser things of life. I have also discovered that people often enjoy, yes, I said enjoy, when things go wrong in their life. Cancer, a heart attack, a stroke, are often worn as a badge of honor. Some will look at these difficulties as a reason to be miserable. "My pain is greater than your pain," is often the conversation of the day. If you want to live that way, you can, but I don’t think you will ever taste victory in your life.

How can you put a new frame on an old ugly picture we sometimes call life? I am glad that you asked.

It begins with the grace of God. God will never put more on you than He puts in you! That is a fact. "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

I know a young champion that was born with cystic hygroma. That is a malformation of the limp nodes. This malformation was in the limp nodes in his neck and tongue. As he was being born, it was obvious to his father that something terrible had gone wrong. Instead of being angry and asking God why his son had been born like this, the father, the very next day, bowed his knee to Christ and has been an active Christian ever since. The boy’s mother was already a Christian, but once again, she did not get angry with God but instead continued on with her dedicated life to her Saviour. Months of twenty four-hour care, seven days a week followed. Several surgeries and months of hospitalization never deterred this mother and father who refused to look at the negative, but looked at the positive instead.

I remember the first time I talked to them about their son. Dad said, "At least there is nothing wrong with his brain. He will be able to function and live a normal life." However, Mom and Dad are beginning to wonder. The son has been accepted to college. There is only one obstacle. He must first graduate High School. That is becoming a bigger challenge each day. Pray for him. If he doesn’t graduate, he will be facing another surgery. I think his dad will break his leg.

Facing surgery designed to make him look more normal, this young man told the doctor before the surgery, "It is in God’s hands. If it doesn’t work then I will just accept it as God’s will for my life."

The surgery was not successful. To many complications and the doctor chose to end the surgery instead of taking the chance of doing more damage. What was this winners response? No depression, or why me’s. He did just what he said he would do. He accepted it as God’s will for his life.

This fall Jason will be in an art school in Chicago, Columbia College. The challenges ahead will not be as great as he has already faced. One day, I believe, you will see the success of this young man. I have prayed for him for nearly eighteen years now. I will continue to do so. I greatly admire this family. Mother, father and son. They have kept their eyes on what is right, not what is wrong. They could not change the picture of their life, but they have put a new frame on the picture and made something beautiful.

Putting a new frame on an old painting will not change the painting. However, it will bring out the best in the shabby canvas.

It might even make it look like a masterpiece.

'Bro. Steve