Thursday, September 29, 2011

Feast of the Archangels

Today is the feast day of the archangels: Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael. If you want to read more about them, check here. Our family prays this prayer every day.

Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our protection against the wickedness
And snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray.
And do thou, oh prince of the heavenly host,
Cast into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits
Who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Behold, the Wood of the Cross

For blessed is the wood,
by which justice cometh.

Wisdom 14:7

Monday, September 19, 2011


About fifteen years ago, Dr. James Dobson wrote a book called, "When God Doesn't Make Sense." For some reason, that title is sticking with me today. Because, truthfully, there are seasons in my life (and I'm sure you can concur) that God just doesn't make sense.

Personally, this is the situation. Just last night, I was taking a walk in the cool evening. The neighborhood was quiet, but there were occasional noises of children playing and neighbors in conversation. The smell of grill smoke floated through the air. There were people out strolling, walking their dogs, and jogging. It was a beautiful evening. I spent my walk reveling in the beauty of God's creation, humming a hymn we sang in church, and basking in the feeling of peace I had. I even reflected on the fact that it had been several days since the panic and worry had invaded my inner calm. I spent some of the walk thanking God for that gift. I had some moments of rejoicing in the new energy I've been feeling from my times of reading Scripture and prayer. It was a nice walk!

This all flooded back in. The cynic in me wanted to say, "So, God, is this how I'm rewarded for being thankful? This is what happens when I make strides in being faithful?"

The truth is, God hasn't changed. Just because my feelings have changed today, doesn't mean He isn't paying attention or that He doesn't care. That He has somehow taken a backseat in overseeing my life. It just's time to battle again and rely on His grace and strength in a new way today.

Last week, a family lost a very small child in a horrible accident. I won't go into the details. But I do know that it wasn't God's doing. People would say, "He could have prevented it. He could have protected that little boy from the actions of another." Well, yes, He could have performed some type of miracle. But I also know there are effects caused by others' actions and there are things we all suffer because we live in a sinful world. Sometimes, the consequences are tragic. God is still there with that family, even in the midst of overwhelming grief.

Betrayal is not one of God's attributes. He never abandons us in the storm. He walks through it with us...even when we can't see or feel Him, He is there.

I may not understand Him or His ways...but He is still faithful.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
Isaiah 55:8, 9

(I recommend reading the entire chapter. A lot of good stuff in there!)


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Memories of 9/11

When I was a kid, I would hear adults talk about "Where were you when...?", usually in reference to the day President John F. Kennedy was shot. Since I had not been born, it was really hard for me to grasp the significance of that question and the answers that followed. The day of the assassination attempt on President Reagan, I got a bit of a glimpse into the magnitude of such an event. (I had just come home from school, turned on the TV, and saw the coverage, as the shooting had occurred just moments before.)

But nothing prepared me (or anyone else in our country--or world, for that matter) for September 11, 2001. It is etched in my memory forever.

We were living in northern Michigan at the time. My husband, who pastored a small church there, had left for Missouri two days before, as he was taking a week-long class down there. That Tuesday morning, I drove our oldest son to school--his second week of kindergarten had just begun. After returning home, I got busy with the usual "mom work" of the day (laundry, caring for our 2 yr. old, etc.). I didn't usually turn on the TV, but decided to turn on the CBS Morning News. A reporter was standing in the foreground, with a burning building behind him. He was letting everyone know that, just a few minutes before, a plane had struck one of the towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. I remembered there had been a bomb there a few years before. I immediately called my husband. He was staying with my cousin and her family. When she answered the phone, I said, "Do you guys have your TV on?" She said no, and wondered why I asked? I said, "I don't really know what all is going on, but a plane just hit one of the big buildings in New York. Something is really wrong."

She put my husband on the phone. As we began talking and speculating about what could be happening, we saw the second plane hit the other tower. To say we were shocked is a major understatement. Then, of course, this was followed by reports of other plane incidents. Later, all airports in the country would be shutdown, as authorities were trying to prevent any more crashes from occurring.

As soon as we hung up, the phone began ringing. People from our church were calling, crying, asking what we should do. It was determined very early on that we were going to have an all-church prayer meeting that night.

What I wanted to do in the midst of all that chaos: go to the school and get my young son, and have him home safe and sound with me. Just huddle in our little apartment, away from the awful events occurring around us. I also wanted my husband home, but that wasn't possible. What I really did: left my son at school--away from the turmoil, and happily oblivious in the midst of kindergarten life--while I sat in front of the TV for hours on end, crying and praying, and trying to make sense of what was happening.

Our church prayer meeting that night opened with my husband calling, and praying for our nation and church via the telephone. It was quite comforting to know that similar prayer meetings were taking place all over the United States, and literally around the world, as other nations joined to pray for us.

I have seen websites and blogs today, in which the bloggers and writers clearly state: We will never forget or FORGIVE. I cannot echo that sentiment. No, I will never forget. That day forever changed our nation and the way we view our national and personal security. It reminded us all that "we never know when the end will come," so we should make the most of every day. It was a wake-up call: never fail to tell your family members how much you love them. It was also a reminder that we need to pray.

But not to forgive? To me, that is, in essence, giving up. It is as if we are saying, "Evil will always prevail, and I don't have to forgive anyone who does me wrong." I believe that things can change, and that GOD always prevails!

The key is that we, as a nation, cannot stop praying! The time for prayer didn't end when the search for the lost was called off at Ground Zero. It didn't end when a memorial was set up in Pennsylvania. It didn't end when the Pentagon was repaired. It won't end until Jesus returns.

Today, I pray especially for those left behind. For the children growing up without mothers/fathers. For the spouses left behind to raise children alone. For parents who lost children. For coworkers who will forever wonder, "Why was I late (or sick) that day, and wasn't at my desk when this all transpired? Why me?" For friends and neighbors who lost people very dear to them. For the FDNY and New York police department, which both suffered astounding losses. The list goes on and on. I pray for them all.

And I pray...never again, dear Lord. Please, never again.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

He Puts a Song in My Heart

We sang this hymn this morning at church. The title is "How Can I Keep From Singing." If you're not familiar with it, the hymnal says it is a Quaker hymn attributed to Robert Lowry.

In light of yesterday's post, and another post from a few weeks ago, I was just amazed at how perfectly this hymn fit!

Verse 1: My life flows on in endless song; above earth's lamentation.
I hear the real though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.

Verse 2: Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear that music ringing;
It sounds and echoes in my soul; How can I keep from singing?

Verse 3: When tyrants tremble, sick with fear, and hear their death knells ringing;
When friends rejoice from far and near, how can I keep from singing?

Verse 4: The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart, a fountain ever springing.
All things are mine since I am his; how can I keep from singing?

Refrain: No storm can shake my inmost calm, while to that rock I'm clinging.
Since Love is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?

(I found a few other versions, but this is the one in our hymnal.)

So, no matter what storms or disappointments we face, since "Love is Lord of heaven and earth," how can we keep from singing???

*Note: If you want hear a beautiful choir edition, here is a YouTube link.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Disappointment That Does Not Destroy

In some of my more reflective moods, I ponder some of the disappointments I have faced in life. What I consider even more deeply, though, is how those disappointments have shaped the woman I have become. The disappointments range from simple childhood issues to life-changing moments as an adult. I'm sure you can relate. Life isn't all rainbows and flowers, is it?

One incident that comes to mind occurred while I was in college. I was privileged to participate in three missions trips with our denomination's youth ministry. Each year, we formed a choir, and sang songs we had learned in Spanish. The leader of these trips would choose one of the students to be the choir director. After the first trip, I had entered college as a music major. Prior to the second trip, one of my friends encouraged me: "They'll certainly ask you to be the choir director on this trip. You're a music major, after all!" Honestly, I hadn't even really thought about it. But those few words put the idea into my head, which I dwelt on until I was convinced she was right. You can imagine my disappointment when a high school student was chosen instead. I had already spent a whole year of college feeling quite inadequate in comparison to the dozens of music majors I had met. This was kind of the "straw that broke the camel's back" in regard to how willing I would be to participate in campus music for quite some time. After all, the ministry leaders from my own home state knew me, knew my abilities, and obviously saw that I greatly lacked in talent.

I do have to say that my home church pastor encouraged me to use my gifts, though. In fact, during that same summer, he was put in charge of the music for a community-wide church event. He asked me to sing several songs as the "special music" portion of the service. I practiced and practiced. I invited my cousin to sing a duet with me on one song. We even bought matching dresses to wear! The day of the service, we showed up early to set up, only to discover there was no sound system. Therefore, no way to play our background music (cassettes, of course...). My brother-in-law offered to go to our church and bring back a sound system, but the pastor in charge refused. "Music isn't necessary, and we just don't have time." If the other disappointment was a straw, that was a whole wagon-load of hay on this little camel's back!

(I'm not sharing all of this to get your sympathy. What I most desire is that as you read my little sob stories, you will be remembering similar events in your own life.)

Those were temporary setbacks, however. Passing moments that, in retrospect, became learning moments...times of growing and learning to just "get over myself".

There have been some "big" disappointments in my life. One of the most prominent in my memory are the many years we spent hoping for a child. Day after day of praying, crying, and begging God to have mercy. The lesson I learned from this, after torturing myself for so long: let it go, and just trust God. We did eventually have two wonderful sons. I realize this is not always the outcome for childless couples. But I do have to say, I think the years of struggle truly came from God. At times when I am so tempted to just totally "lose it" with my kids, God reminds me very clearly of the years of longing. Talk about putting things in perspective!

So, you may be asking yourself, what is the whole point of all this "sharing" you're doing???

I truly felt led to post all this today. I have the feeling the Holy Spirit is walking some of you through some trying times. Maybe someone you love very much has disappointed you. Maybe you have depended on a job or family situation working out in a certain way, and it ended in the exact opposite manner you expected. I don't know what you're facing. What I do know is that, in spite of disappointing circumstances, or people who have let us down, God is still God. He is still in control.

British author Eliza Taylor once wrote, "Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it."

In the words of Job: "But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me, I shall come forth as gold. My foot has held fast to His steps; I have kept His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food."
(Job 23:10-12)

The lesson God wants to teach us all, no matter how big or small the disappointments we are facing, is that, when we hold fast to His ways in spite of "life"...we will become a stronger, more holy person. The fires of life burn out the inconsistencies, selfishness, pettiness, and whatever else is "dross" in our lives.

St. Paul said it best in Romans 5: "And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (vs. 3-5)

We need to let the hard times of life form us into His image. We will come forth as gold, and reflecting the character of the Lord more and more. Let Him wrap you in His mantle and carry you through, dear friend.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

SIF--Scripture I'm Feeling

But now, thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “ Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life. Fear not, for I am with you...

Isaiah 43:1-5a

*If you want to read the entire passage, go here.