Monday, November 24, 2014

For Dave and Mary Sue

As I scrolled down through Facebook posts this morning, I noticed the sad news on the local newspaper site telling of a fatal auto accident. I automatically sent a prayer. As I read on after clicking the link, that prayer turned to an audible gasp as I read that good friends of mine had lost their 18 year-old son in this accident. The sadness I initially felt turned to horror. The story took on a personal tone. The intense sting of my own memories of the near loss of a child came flooding back to me; and my own feelings, as devastating as they were, were for the near loss of a child--not a loss.

I began praying without ceasing for them.

I pray that they will immediately feel the peace that passes all understanding that comes from our loving God, our ever-lasting source of infinite comfort.

I pray that they physically and emotionally feel the thousands of prayers that are being prayed for them as they face this indescribable grief.

And I know
...that Christ is at their sides, embracing them with comfort none of us can begin to match.
...that God has them firmly in the palm of His wondrous hand, giving them the strength to face each day, each hour, each minute.

A child of God has been welcomed Home; those of us left here find it nearly impossible to feel anything but sadness...but thanks be to God that we know that Home awaits where all is safe...
all is well...
all is at peace...

We love you, Dave and Mary Sue...feel our prayers and lean on us. 
God's love be with you.
Peace be with you.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Every Detail

"Every detail works to your advantage and to God's glory: more and more grace, more and more people, more and more praise! So we're not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace."--2 Corinthians 4:15-16

This past week has been a week of details to say the least. Monday morning, August 4, Kurt's life (as well as ours) changed forever...and the details made it happen. Talented people blessed with innumerable skills from God worked miracle after miracle over the past few days. In less than 24 hours, Kurt went from walking into a pre-op prep room to being placed in a regular post-transplant room. In less than 2 1/2 hours, his liver was removed and a donor's liver replaced it and his life began again.

These details certainly worked to his advantage and to God's glory--there was certainly more and more people and definitely more and more praise!

There were times during Kurt's first hospital stay, as these verses state, that "looked like things were falling apart on us". We were completely unprepared for the seriousness and the speed at which the illness came upon him. We were told that extreme measures would need to be taken to save him. Our world was falling apart on us. Little did we know that God was indeed making a new life for him. He allowed a miracle--he was saved and regained his health stronger than it had been in a long time; it was just in time to receive the call for the liver transplant. 

I can guarantee you that "not a day goes by without his unfolding grace". We are blessed beyond belief; Kurt has been blessed with a second chance at life. He knows that his life reads as a testament to God's grace.

And, with God on our side, we'll never, ever give up. Thanks be to God.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Where Are We Without Hope?

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future"--Jeremiah 29:11

Earlier today I read a daily devotion that talked about hope. It took me back to when we first arrived in Indianapolis at University Hospital and I had a doctor ask me if I wanted them to do everything possible for Kurt. He tried to ask the question very delicately, and I could tell that he already knew the answer. My answer was, "Of course." Later he came back and spoke to me for awhile during the middle of the night while getting more signatures from me for blood transfusions. He talked about what all was being done. The word "hope" came up. I told him that hope and faith was all I had at that moment. He gently agreed that these were two important things to have indeed.

Now, as I watch Kurt prepare for the next phase of his life, I think about hope quite a lot. I find myself "hoping" that the call will come soon; I "hope" that he will stay well as he awaits the transplant. I know that, according to Jeremiah, that "hope and a future" is attainable for us all, no matter what the issue we confront. What I have also learned is that sometimes our narrow idea of "hope" is not nearly as expansive as God's. Jesus' "hope" for us in his death and resurrection emcompasses all of mankind. My daily affirmations of "hope" usually have pretty short measurement on the scale. Nevertheless, I know that God, through his beautiful Son, has given me and everyone else the opportunity to feel the refreshing feeling that hope can bring when we embrace it. 

I "hope" for all of you a blessed day...peace be with you.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Just the Right Words, Just When I Need Them

Philippians 4:6-7--"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Since Kurt's discharge from the hospital, I know he is in the best place on earth he could be. How many people can move into a welcoming, loving home with a built-in critical care nurse? We are indeed blessed.

Still, especially the first night or two, I would lie awake at night listening to Kurt cough, or stir in his sleep, or wonder if the oxygen was working correctly and oxygen saturation was strong enough. I felt very helpless, even surrounded by help.

Ann loaned me a daily devotion book that I would read to Kurt many mornings while he was in the hospital; the morning after one of my more awake than asleep nights, I picked up the book and read the devotion for that day. The first line was , "Do not worry about tomorrow!" I was instantly calmed. As I read through the devotion, the words I have read time and again in the Bible came to me in comforting waves.

I know I'm not in charge of this part of Kurt's journey--I'm here to be Mom. God has blessed us beyond words  in allowing us brilliant doctors, nurses, facilities, and now a warm and loving temporary home. Tom is able to make trips up to see us; Kurt and I can communicate with family members freely on the phone. He is in an environment that encourages improving health.

So...whenever those little pangs of anxiousness come knocking (and they still do), I go to these beautiful verses at the top of this blog and I rest...and thank God.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

With God, All Things are Possible

Matthew 19:26--"Jesus looked at them and said, 'With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'" (NIV)

Kurt and I were on our way home from one of our road trips to Indy this past week and were chit chatting about one thing then another. I told him about a post I saw on Facebook that had a drawing of a young man sitting on one end of a park bench and Jesus sitting on the other end. The young man was asking Jesus why he allowed there to be violence, disease, starvation, and all other horrid things on Earth. Jesus' reply was, "I was just about to ask you the same thing." We both said, "Ah."

Lots of truth in that simple reply. 

Think of all the times the brilliant minds on this Earth are not at work to find better ways to catch diseases earlier, but rather working diligently on new ways to destroy life. Great minds that could be working together for peaceful co-existence rather work against one another to be in power. People starve each day while bags of relief food sit on docks, rotting. Clearly, when we turn away from one another we have turned away from God.

But there are still many times...

when God's children do work together for the better. My sister-in-law is currently in Africa working side-by-side with others helping those who are faced with poor health care. Kurt, despite his current situation, is happily employed by a company that cares about him and lets him go to his various appointments. And Kurt, who could easily just sit and pity his situation, is volunteering some time as he can to his beloved WonderLab and making sure a young autistic boy he befriended is talked to most everyday via text and taken out for some yogurt and some Game World time when Kurt is in town. With God, these things are possible.

My mind and my senses have been heightened these past couple of weeks. Places we've never seen in hospitals are now a part of our everyday world. And, in all these places, I see that with God, all things are possible. It's humbling and it makes me, I hope, more kind and patient with others. I ask myself and I ask all of you to remember that with man alone, we must use the word impossible; with God, however, we need never use the word. Because, with God, all things are possible.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

And Then God Gave Me Easter

Mark 16:4-6--"But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 'Don't be alarmed,' he said. 'You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. '"

This weekend has been kind of a rough one. A long-time friend was tragically killed in a fire in his home; his wife was injured and lost her home and the love of her life in a matter of minutes. Further, I'm concerned that through a number of medical missteps and negligence that someone very dear to me is more physically ill than necessary.

Yesterday, the weather was beautiful beyond belief, yet my heart was too heavy to truly acknowledge its beauty. I spent the afternoon Saturday out among the gardens, a favorite springtime activity that normally makes me smile just thinking about it. Nevertheless, my mind tended to stray away from the blooms and blossoms of the new season to the fading and wilting  shadows of frustration and sadness. I went to bed last night tired inside and out.

And then God gave me Easter. I woke up to another beautiful sky, just as I did yesterday morning...but this morning was different. Truly different.

I said the Lord's Prayer with gusto--Thy Will Be Done--and I could feel the strength  in those words that had been lacking the day before. My spirit lifted along with my soul. It truly is going to be alright. God is in charge; Christ is with me always. And He is with you as well. Hallelujah.

"And the arms that hold the universe are holding you tonight
So you can rest inside; it's gonna be alright.
And the voice that calms the raging sea is calling you His child
So be still and know He's in control,
He will never let you go."--Arms that Hold the Universe by 33 Miles

Sunday, March 30, 2014

And a Child Shall Lead Them

We attend church on Saturday nights, so I'm normally sitting with a cup of coffee about the time the show CBS Sunday Morning come on...and I'm a huge fan. It's so nice to watch a show that's intelligent, informative, and good natured--a rarity these days.

A few weeks back, there was a really neat story about a young man who, along with too many other kids in our country, was without a dad due to war. His dad was killed when the little guy was only 5 weeks old. He has photos, stories, and memories.

And a legacy that he is fulfilling in a beautiful way.

The story goes that this little guy was all excited one day because as he and his family were walking into a restaurant to eat, he found a 20 dollar bill in the parking lot. Even in today's inflationary world, twenty dollars is, in a kid's world...a bunch.

What did he buy? 

A legacy. 

He thought about, like any of us, what that $20 would buy. But then he saw a serviceman in the restaurant and something wonderful in that little 8-year-old guy took over. He took a piece of paper, wrote a note to this servicemen giving him the $20 explaining to him that his dad was killed in Iraq and was in heaven. He also told the serviceman that his family believed in paying it forward, so he wanted him to have this money as a thank you for his service to the country. 

And forward it went. The story that was aired touched the hearts of so many people...kindness is indeed not dead--we recognize and embrace it. We just need to be reminded of it from time to time. Isaiah 11:6 says, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kids; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." 

Sometimes it takes the littlest of us to truly lead us back on the path of pure love for one another.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Practicing the Sabbath

Today I decided to actively and mindfully practice the Sabbath in regard to Exodus 20:8-9: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God." I fully intended it to be a day of study and reflection, with little minimal labor.

And then the day actually began. My mom wasn't feeling too well, and I decided that going out to see her was more important than sitting and reading to myself. Besides, I figured some reflexology might help her body with healing. Bringing her some relief was important.

Next a lovely young lady that I share Reiki healing with that has a serious illness texted me and told me that she needed some Reiki and prayers sent to her--she wasn't feeling very well,either. I decided that doing this was important if it would give her comfort and relief.

Then another friend texted with a frustration that vexed her; I decided that looking up something online for her that might make her day a little brighter seemed the decent thing to do--I know if I were in her predicament, I'd appreciate the gesture.

And all that was before noon.

Then I thought about the New Testament and Mark 2:27: "And then he said to them, 'The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.'" By the time Jesus and his disciples were traveling about sharing the gospel, Jewish tradition had made it practically impossible to keep the Sabbath successfully. The Pharisees spotted Jesus and some of the disciples pulling some grain heads to eat as they walked by the fields. As a result, Jesus was approached and accused of being unlawful on the Sabbath. The verse above was his response. The Sabbath was indeed originally created for us to have a day of rest--a gift from God. Nevertheless, Christ pointed out that sometimes there is God's work to be done as well. 

I am grateful that I am at a time in my life where I can practice a bit of the Sabbath most every day in prayer and meditation. I am also grateful that God allows me to help others when matter what day of the week.

Peace be with you.

Sunday, March 16, 2014


I Corinthians 13:12--"For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

With the simple click of a button, a picture can be created--a moment in time preserved for the life of the picture itself. Those pictures can become very precious to us, giving us a glimpse of a memory of a loved one, a treasured thing, or a treasured place in time. These representations are, many times, priceless.

This weekend has been all about those priceless, precious  memories captured by a careful eye in the viewfinder. In conversation with a good friend about her recent discovery of the new love of photography, we spoke of the pleasure that comes with finding the "just right" view of a subject that, in turn, creates the treasure. Attending the concert of another friend who had written and performed a remarkable song about the feelings evoked by a photo collection I had taken a few years ago, I smiled at how she created with words what I had created with the eye.

We are afforded the perfect canvas on which to create our memories. Our creator gives us the beauty of nature that unfolds every day, season after season. He also gives us a loving soul and a heart that grasps the idea of love in a way that allows us to see clearly the love of others in pictures we create.

Just imagine how clearly someday we will truly see everything when we are living in eternity. The finest lens known to man will not compare to our crystal clear view of all the beauty before our eyes. We'll also be able to clearly "see" answers to those questions that plague us all our mortal lives.

Peace be with you.   

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Frustration to Patience

Colossians 3:12-15--"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful."

Since becoming interested in and actively working with healthy living practices, I've seen the remarkable difference it's made in my life and in the lives of some of those around me. I also deal with levels of frustration each day when working with clients who could, with a few simple and direct changes in their daily habits, enhance the quality of their health immensely. And yet, they don't change.

Frustration for them--frustration for me.

It's very easy for me to have an opinion of "why don't they just help themselves?" "Why don't they want to feel better?" They could make their lives so much easier and comfortable.

And then I think of how I must appear to God.

I know He's bound to be wondering the same thing about me. And yes, I'm bound to be creating some of the same frustrations. 

God has given me a simple set of rules to live a good life; following them should be a pleasure and something I pursue every day. Nevertheless, I come up short every day of my existence. I fail at these simple rules. He has also given me His own Son to be my constant companion on the road to eternity. But do I faithfully follow Christ? Sadly, no. Like I said, I must cause a lot of frustration.

I have learned not to judge those who I work with through reflexology and Reiki. I give thanks each time that they come to me for healing; I know that I have no special power. Everything that happens is God at work. When I forget that from time to time and become a bit too independent, I'm the same to Him as my most stubborn client. I thank God that He is so very patient with me and allows me to come around on my own time. I am also thankful that He gives me lessons in patience each day with those I serve.

So, the next time we're totally frustrated with someone, we need to remember to be patient; we're more than likely looking at a mirror image of ourselves in God's eyes.

Peace be with you.  

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Ash Wednesday--Giving Up or Giving In?

Reading: Romans 12:2--"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." (ESV)

This coming Wednesday is Ash Wednesday. For many years I have chosen to given up something for Lent. The days before Ash Wednesday have always been spent pondering what would constitute a good "sacrifice" for the Lenten season. With my former less-than-stellar eating habits, I've been known to go without cheeseburgers on white fluffy buns, sugar, or some other junk food that would be just enough of a culinary sacrifice to make me feel the pinch of "giving up" something.

Now, as Ash Wednesday and Lent once again approaches, my thoughts have turned more from "giving up" to "giving in". What does this mean? Perhaps "giving in" is a deeper, more spiritual  approach to better appreciate just how much more quality one's life can have on this Earth during one's short time here. We have a limited number of days here at "Earth School". During that short time, we have a lot to learn and to discover. Too many times we get caught up in the mundane, virtually meaningless drivel of day-to-day existence. As the old saying goes, we live life a "mile wide and an inch deep".

I don't want that anymore--I search to live a mile deep, if only an inch wide.

I think, for me, "giving in" will help me find that greater depth.  So what will I "give up  and give in"?

On a base level, I plan to give up foods and habits that keep my temple from being at its best.  I will mindfully "give up" the glue of gluten and practice yoga faithfully. My prayer is that these two determined practices will allow me to obtain the next phase--"giving in".  I want to consciously "give in" to the wisdom that surrounds me that is of God and his son, Jesus Christ. Taking time to take care of my bodily temple, I will take the time to learn the wisdom and patience that is required to not just go through the motions. Learning this skill and honing it will allow me to expand my conscious day-to-day thoughts and actions. I will be able to walk closer with Christ in this earthly journey.

So, on this approaching blessed Ash Wednesday, I invite you to allow yourself and "give up" and "give in"...and peace be with you. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

An Invitation

Reading: "Jesus replied, 'A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, 'Come, for everything is ready'" (Luke 14:16).

I've been writing out invitations today for a birthday party for my mother-in-law. I'm making sure to include all the needed details. As I look at it, I play detective and look at those details. Is everything included? Time? Location? Date? All the necessary information that can make or break a successful gathering. No one wants to show up at the wrong location, on the wrong day, or at the wrong time. That would be a disaster indeed.

Throughout the Bible and in various hymns, we are invited to share the love of God through acceptance of Christ as our Savior. The invitations come to us often; we are asked, not commanded with threats, to join the banquet for eternity. We are very clearly informed about the time and the place. We need not travel great distances to come to the banquet--it's found within each of us.  Nor do we need to have great wealth or prestige to be a welcomed member of the great banquet. Even the poorest of the poor and the most lowly of our planet are given the same invitation as the richest and most well-bred.

Perhaps one of the most beautiful hymns of invitation is "Just As I Am". This hymn contains two particularly fitting verses:
"Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind; sight, riches, healing of the mind, yea, all I need in thee to find, O Lamb of God, I come, I come.
"Just as I am, thou wilt receive, wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve; because thy promise I believe, O Lamb of God, I come, I come."

This invitation is the best one we will ever receive; the chance of a lifetime (and beyond) to join the greatest celebration known to man. Don't miss the chance to attend.

Peace be with you.

*Just As I Am, Charlotte Elliott--1835.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Cabin Fever

Matthew 18:20--"For where two or three have come together in my name, I will be with them."

"We gather together to ask the Lord's blessing, He chastens and hastens His will to make known; the wicked oppressing, now cease from distressing, sing praises to His name, He forgets not His own."--Gedneckledck and Kremser; translated by Baker.

I have to admit it--I've had my fill of winter. I smiled through December and enjoyed that first big snowfall and frigid weather that kept us housebound and I used the term "cozy". I, like everyone else, soldiered through January with the expectation of snow, bone-chilling winds, and slippery spots everywhere. And, even though February is obviously deeply imbedded into our winter months, the over-all lack of being able to carry on with normal routines due to not even being able to safely leave the driveway is beginning to wear a little thin. 

I guess I have succumbed to a bit of cabin fever.  

I know I'm not alone. 

Frankly, we need fellowship; there are always things that can be done at home and done by ourselves, but God created us to need one another. I can tell I need fellowship when Tom is away working long hours, and I get anxious knowing that going down that stretch of our ice-rink driveway is out of the question. I stay busy with cooking, cleaning, sewing, planning gardens, reading, writing...but it's just not the same as getting "aired out" as we say around here. It's good to hear a voice other than one's own.

 I read a friend's post on Facebook earlier this morning that said a great deal in few words. It simply stated that "I want to go to church. I miss it." That speaks volumes. We need to "gather together to ask the Lord's blessing" as the hymn says.    

Matthew 18:20 also tells us that we are to meet together in groups...even with just one other person. It will strengthen us. As the old saying goes, "Two heads are better than one." Contemporary research shows us that being with others in relaxed settings will help our emotional states--even with just one other person. We have less time to dwell on ourselves. We have less time to ruminate on things that are happening, or, worse yet, might happen. If we find ourselves alone, even picking up the phone and talking with someone helps a great deal. We make the connections. 

We can all revive our spirits in knowing that the sun will shine brightly again, we will feel its warming rays, and the spring fresh air will return. Each day gets a little more daylight; we are heading in the right direction. Nevertheless, it's good to remember to give ourselves some "together time" with our loved ones, friends, and maybe even discovering a new friend in a former stranger. Our cabin fever will break, and we will be once again refreshed. 

Peace be with you. 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Comfort and Joy

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future'" (Jeremiah 29:11).

Today I'm making a little comforter for a baby. Seems there was a little mix-up with some nice ladies on a mission trip to Jamaica and, through some misunderstanding, some baby blankets didn't find their way to some sweet babies in that desperate country. The original request was a quilt, but I don't quilt, so I'll be making a comforter.

I like comforters. For those of you a bit unfamiliar with the type of blanket it is, comforters are the less glamorous cousin of the quilt. Comforters are normally made from the scraps of other projects.  Textile leftovers--not a very elegant beginning. But that's where the comforter gets its character. It has no pretense--it has no other purpose in life other than to create warmth and, well, comfort for anyone who is fortunate enough to receive one. 

The stitching on a comforter is also non-descript. No painstaking hand or machined designs. With a comforter, just getting the blocks as straight as possible is pretty much good enough. There are no stitches that even show, other than the straight stitching on the edging. 

The "glue" that holds the comforter together is called tacking. It's heavy thread that is looped through just enough of the blocks to sufficiently attach the layers of material and lining. That, combined with the edging or the "frame" of the comforter keeps everything together. I guess this is when the comforter moves from a noun to a verb and it comes into its true reason for existence.

It comforts. 

And that's what this willy-nilly mix of scraps joined together with a couple of bed sheets and some edging and heavy thread will do once it's complete. It will travel to somewhere in the states and then continue on to its journey to Jamaica. From there it will have the precious duty of comforting a baby that has little other earthly comfort. I know it will serve its purpose.

Every day we are comforted not only by these trusty blankets, but also by the "blanket" of God's precious love. Jeremiah 29:11 gives us the warmth of God's words. The hymn below, "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", further illustrates God's unending commitment to give us true comfort and joy.

"God rest ye merry gentlemen,
let nothing you dismay;
Remember Christ our Saviour
was born on Christmas day
To save us all from Satan's power
when we were gone astray
O, tidings of comfort and joy,
comfort and joy,
O, tidings of comfort and joy" 
(author unknown, pub. by William B. Sandys 1833)

Peace be with you.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Road Construction

"Lord, give us faith and strength the road to build,
To see the promise of the day fulfilled,
When war shall be no more and strife shall cease
                   Upon the highway of the Prince of Peace"
--Heralds of Christ--Laura S. Copenhaver (1868-1941) and George W. Warren (1828-1902)  

"And a highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Way of Holiness..."--Isaiah 35:8.

The road that passes by our house is, what we call in the country, a backroad. To those who are unfamiliar with the term, I can assure you that the word is quite descriptive. The traffic on our road is minimal, so the maintenance on it  many times resembles the use--minimal. I've been known to liken it to driving on a piece of Swiss cheese--lots of holes of varying sizes to be dodged while in transit to the adjoining state highway. Unfortunately, at the present time, that adjoining state highway is suffering as well. Numerous scars of varying sizes, shapes, and depths have developed from wear and tear. It has, apparently, due to poor choices of materials used, become every bit as treacherous as our little poorly functioning backroad.

I come from the generation where roads were everything. Even though the first coast to coast interstate system was built in the decade before my birth, roads were a very important part of my young life. We took many a vacation while I was growing up--all in the car. It was rare when we encountered a road that was very poorly built or maintained. Thick layers of asphalt with bright yellow and white ribbons of paint greeted us in state after state. Sadly, that is no longer the case. The roads we now encounter on our car trips vary from "o-kay" to "oh dear".

Thinking about the third verse of the hymn Heralds of Christ, I see many comparisons concerning roads in our lives, both literally and figuratively. We are given a charge through our dedication to God that we will "build the road" that will be fit for the Prince of Peace to travel upon--a road that bears no scars of hate, no dangerous potholes of war or strife. Our attempts to do this many times end up looking more like the Swiss cheese backroad than the smoothly paved and lined  highways of generations past. In the busyness of our days, we tend to not take the care to smooth the road bed, to mix the materials carefully, to check for proper conditions, and to add enough layers to last throughout the many challenges of heavy traffic, poor weather conditions, and general wear and tear of time. We want to be good stewards of God's world, sharing His love and message to all people; but, for whatever reasons, we tend to not stay the course. We shy away from being direct with our faith, we water down the word of God, we don't follow through with re-visiting those to whom we share God's love--as a result our "road building" doesn't result in a road fit for Christ, but rather a more holey than holy road. 

Isaiah 35:8 tells us that "a highway will be there, and it will be one of Holiness". This is our charge while here on earth. Time to sharpen up our road construction skills. An honored guest is coming soon.

Peace be with you.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Make My Heart a Shining Star

"Thou heavenly Brightness! Light divine! O deep within my heart now shine, And make thee there an altar! Fill me with joy and strength to be Thy member, ever joined to thee In love that cannot falter; Toward thee longing Doth possess me; turn and bless me; Here in sadness Eye and heart long for thy gladness!"--O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright  by Phillipp Nickolai (1827-1878)

Psalm 45:6-8 "Your throne, O God, endures forever, Justice is your royal scepter. You love what is good And hate what is wrong. Therefore God, your God, Has given you more gladness Than anyone else" (Psalm 45:6-8).  "I will cause your name to be honored in all generations; the nations of the earth will praise you forever"(Psalm 45:17).

I was looking out the window the other morning at a sunrise and it was a beauty. One of those where variegated pastels take over the sky with one single twinkling star remaining from the previous night.  The star had that unique searing , pure, glimmering quality that tends to defy accurate description. It caused me to pause and take in the simple, yet breathtaking sight. The song, "O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright" came to mind.  "Fill me with joy and strength to be Thy member, ever joined to thee in love that cannot falter" is how my heart, mind, and soul feel when considering the absolute and perfect beauty not only of that morning's  sunrise, but every day--sunrises, sunsets, delicately bloomed flowers, refreshing rains on parched ground.  We are certainly treated as the beloved and royal children of the King. Our surroundings of nature are beyond description and compare in their design.

"Here in sadness, eye and heart long for thy gladness"--on our best days, we know that without God in our lives it's a life that is truly missing its core. With God, our days aren't filled with mindless joy; they aren't filled with mindless anything. With God, our perspective changes and we know, even on our saddest days that there is comfort. We are human and nothing will keep us from occasional sadness--we have free will and that freedom will lead us to choices or consequences of others' choices that create pain and hurt in our lives . Our bodies are also imperfect, and they will fail us from time to time. This, of course, makes us sad, indeed. Nevertheless, that sadness is not accompanied by an empty, hollow feeling. God fills in all the gaps with love and, even in those miserable times, we feel comforted and know that we are being held in God's loving hands.

"I will cause your name to be honored in all generations; the nations of the earth will praise you forever"--so true. Once we have become one of God's holy family, we want to encourage our families and friends to experience this indescribable bliss. It is, indeed, a true peace that passes all understanding.

"O Morning star, so fair and bright…" this lovely verse not only describes the first views of our waking hours but also our "bright and fair" lives as the children of our loving God.

Peace be with you. 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Indeed, We Have a Story to Tell to the Nations!

"We've a story to tell to the nations, That shall turn their hearts to the right, A story of truth and mercy, A story of peace and light, A story of peace and light. For the darkness shall turn to dawning, And the dawning to noon-day bright, And Christ's great kingdom shall come to earth, the kingdom of love and light. Amen."--H. Ernest Nicol (1862-1928)

Mark 16:15--"And he said to them, "Go into all the world, and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation."

Ask anyone--would they like to wake up each morning knowing that their day will be a day full of love and light where there is no negativity toward themselves or others? I'm going to guess this question would be met with a resounding, "Of course!"

Then why aren't we? The answer is alarming simple. In looking at the words in the above hymn, it's we that have a "story to tell to the nations". In accordance with verse 15 in 16th chapter of the Book of Mark: "Go into all the world, and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation" gives us a charge and responsibility to tell our neighbors as well as strangers we encounter throughout our day and throughout our journeys about the love of Christ. The perfect love of Christ that will indeed bring light into all the dark corners of everyone's lives. We're not waking up to love and light because we're not sharing that story of "truth and mercy, peace and light". We're keeping that light under the basket (Matthew 5:14-16) and not sharing the most wonderful news mankind will ever receive. That is why we wake up with doubt, concern, worry, dread of what the day will bring. What a loss for us...each day is indeed a blessing and a gift we receive from our loving God. 

Let's each make the effort to share the good news of truth and mercy. What a wonderful day it will be when we truly wake up to a day of love and light.

Peace be with you.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Welcome, Three Kings

"We three kings of Orient are; Bearing gifts we traverse afar, Field and fountain, moor and mountain, Following yonder star…"--We Three Kings written by John H. Hopkins, Jr. (1820-1891)

 Matthew 2:1-11: "Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem, in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. At about that time some astrologers from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, 'Where is the newborn King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in far-off eastern lands, and have come to worship him.' King Herod was deeply disturbed by their question, and all Jerusalem was filled with rumors. He called a meeting of the Jewish religious leaders. 'Did the prophets tell us were the Messiah would be born?' he asked. 'Yes, in Bethlehem,' they said, 'for this is what the prophet Micah wrote 'O little town of Bethlehem, you are not just an unimportant Judean village, for a Governor shall rise from you to rule my people Israel.' Then Herod sent a private message to the astrologers, asking them to come to see him; at this meeting he found out from them the exact time when they first saw the star. Then he told them, 'Go to Bethlehem and search for the child. And when you find him, come back and tell me so that I can go and worship him too!' After this interview the astrologers started out again. And look! The star appeared to them again, standing over Bethlehem. Their joy knew no bounds! Entering the house where the baby and Mary his mother were, they threw themselves down before him, worshiping. They opened their presents and gave him gold, frankincense  and myrrh."

 Happy Epiphany! With all the commercialization of the Christmas season, this most important holiday in the Christian church gets swept away with all the decorations, cards, and trappings. But Epiphany is such a lovely time. The Kings have finally arrived at the manger.  What a wonderful Biblical lesson to share with children of all ages--recognizing  that the 3 Kings were not present at the manger on Christmas Eve, but were far away in the western part of the world. They wanted to visit and worship this new-born King so strongly that they made the long trip east to a far-off land to a tiny little town named Bethlehem, led by an incredible star in the sky. They brought with them priceless gifts; once they arrived and beheld this miraculous child, these gifts paled by comparison. This wee baby was their--and our--salvation. Life would never be the same again.

 So when that manger scene comes out with next year's Christmas decorations, be sure and keep it out and truly celebrate the miracle of Epiphany--one of the first stories of Christ's life that we can share and celebrate with one another.

 Peace be with you.