Warm Wednesday Words: Christmas Letter: Still Alive…Still Trusting

christmas letter templateUnless you count this as one, we won’t be writing a Christmas letter this year.  Come to think of it, it’s been a number of years since I sent a Christmas letter.  But if we did you might be hanging onto your seat.   Then again, in the off paragraphs you might be snoring.  But ultimately what I would want you to know is this:  Even in the hard years, God is good and does exceedingly above all that we ask or think. (Eph. 3:20)  He is to be praised.

Imagine getting a Christmas letter saying that in a fit of jealous rage one of two sons had killed the other, and in another family letter came the news that the husband had risked his wife’s sexual exploitation for his own hide; then a few years later the same wife had gotten so jealous of a relationship that she, herself, had put into place, that she had sent the destitute progeny away forever.  What if your friends wrote you that one child had tricked the near blind, dying father into changing his will.  Now here’s some Christmas letter news: the dad had suffered some devastating consequences in his life for a rooftop peeping tom escapade, and later there were some problems in the blending of the half siblings.  One had raped his half sister and in revenge another had murdered the rapist.  And then later the disowned teen murderer  used his charisma and become popular and powerful enough to try to destroy his father.

Likely responses to such tabloid-like stories from God-fearing families might be shock, gossip and judgement.  The latter springs from our insatiable desire to measure someone’s tragedy against our own life and surmise how that could never happen to us. Thoughts, if not words, might be…”if the parents had just had them in church every Sunday” to “if they had not chosen that school” to “if they had not been so strict”, or “if they had not been so lenient”, or “if they had just went to marriage counseling” and on and on.  We believe in grace, but it often shadows our prideful logic.  The disciples tried to lay blame as well, but received this response…”Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” (John 9:3) The works of God in a life are really so much more refreshing to focus on!  If we could just quickly shift our thoughts to how God may use circumstances, as well as start praying we’d become a part of the miracle of grace, redemption and restoration.

In the above scenarios, God dealt with sin, but saw the heart, (yes, especially the parts that bore His likeness) which is why He could call the fearful husband the father of many nations, the jealous wife a woman to be emulated by all women in regard to respect for her husband, the #1 loser dad a man after God’s own heart in regard to his worshipful and compassionate heart, etc.

Unfortunately, God’s grace and redemption are sometimes not as convincing in humans, and on occasion even purposely omitted, leaving many of us trudging uphill through the storms of life with social apathy (not to be confused with spiritual apathy) as our trail guide.  A friend of ours and midwife for two of our childbirths years ago, blogged recently on  Christmas letters.  “The fact of the matter is, any time any of us have a bad year, we aren’t as likely to send out Christmas cards or a Christmas letter.  If we’ve experienced a death in the family, struggled financially, had medical issues, serious kid problems, emotional trauma, a divorce, church drama, or just a year where everything seemed to go wrong, we don’t really feel like sharing.  Those things don’t go as well in the end of year brag letter as do educational accomplishments, travel, promotions and awards.”  You’ll likely be blessed and entertained if you take time to read her entire post @ the above link.  You might even change the way you write next year’s Christmas card or letter.

But meantime, if you didn’t hear much from us, neither did most.  Like Roxanne and many of you, we’re still here, still alive, still trusting, hoping, and finding healing in the time out.

 

 

 

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Warm Wednesday Words: Shambles, Mockingbirds and Prayers

to kill a mockingbird

When the city’s in shambles
and unknowns abound
pray hard for the vandals
that truth would confound.

Lies meant to stir hatred
violence, crimes and unrest
destroy what is sacred
and won’t pass the test.

For evidence will disclose
a man’s effort to be true
one who heroically forgoes
his own safety for me and you.

He has respect from the grateful
even if a sorrowful state of mind
and violence from the hateful
who have an axe to grind.

They forgot the mockingbird was innocent
like the very one set up.
He was not defined by insolence
nor fight, thievery and such schmuck.

“To Kill a Mockingbird” was a sin
because the plot did imbibe
meanness, lies, and scandalous rumors wherein
the fearful and bullies felt emboldened in the tide.

But now who is the mockingbird
and who is the lynch mob?
Where is the hero who will stand strong and be heard?
Must the mockingbird’s heart continue to throb?

Lord make us humble
walk in truth, respect and by a code
Let us not stumble
into hypocritical mode.

May God hear the prayers
of those who know power rests in Christ
who hold up pure hands with these cares –
pure only because they know He sacrificed.

 

 

Warm Wednesday Words: God Won’t Waste Our Affairs – He Cares

God is with me

When hope lingers slow and the mountain stays the same
words mean little minus public acclaim
When hypocrisies loom bold
and love waxes cold

When you live too many days
under friendly fire haze
And what was real
is denied by hearts of steel.

When friends join the throng
of the popular traitor’s song
it may hurt
but you learn – don’t dessert.

When vision is blurred
And your cries obscurred
Steps grow weak
and hands work meek

Fears grow strong
and doubts come along
God is there, rising up
to fill your cup.

When the promise is broke
and love wears a cloak.
Hate wins a round yet
angels rush to surround.

When the swords come clanging
Radicals at the door banging
shouting “Deny!”
or to your children say goodbye!

But you’ve taught them well
They won’t choose hell.
They close their eyes
and wait to meet you in the skies.

Storms may gather
but God would rather
we look to Him, not the storm..
He’ll transform.

Jesus is worth every trial
there’s no room for denial
His love grows more dear
with every year.

Regardless our circumstances
and the uninformed glances
He won’t waste our affairs.
He sees, He hears, He cares.

LaDonna English

faith makes things possible

Warm Wednesday Words: Peace

I was a child of the 60’s and blossomed in the  70’s, “the Peace Movement decade”, which was anything but peaceful.  The lingering Vietnam war, campus riots, the Jim Jones mass suicide/murder case and many other social injustices brewed anger.  Peace signs were everywhere from wall graffiti to embroidered on our bell bottoms, purses, and book covers.

embroidered peace patchThe Beatles came on the scene and turned pop rock culture on its head, not only because of their pleasing abandonment to energetic musical expression, but also because they used their platform for political and social expression in a period when everyone wanted new and public venues of expression.

second pic of the BeatlesThe church embraced the peace movement in so far as connecting with the culture and we sang songs such as the one below.  Youth groups became the poster child of the traditional church, meeting in coffee houses and other such non traditional settings.

Often the most vociferous protestors for peace seemed to emanate the least amount of it.  But in spite of a decade or more of clamoring for political and public peace, it remained illusive on many levels.  That’s not really surprising because true peace is not about our circumstances or world affairs that effect us.  Circumstances may rock our world, but they can’t steal our inner peace once we have time to reflect on God’s perspective.

peace protestorsOswald Chambers said in his August 26 “My Utmost for His Highest” devotional, ‘Are you painfully disturbed just now, distracted by the waves and billows of God’s providential permission…is all barren?  Then look up and receive the undisturbedness of the Lord Jesus.  Reflected peace is the proof that you are right with God because you are at liberty to turn your mind to Him.  If you are not right with God, you can never turn your mind anywhere but on yourself….Lay it all out before Him, and in the face of difficulty, bereavement and sorrow, hear Him…’  John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Your heart must not be troubled or fearful.”