Archive | January 2013

A Prayer

Hand ReachingAbba Father:

You are Holy and I praise Your name.

You are the I Am and I worship You for who You are.

You are the Shepherd and I seek You.

You are Abba Father and I need You.

You are the Author of our lives and the Creator of all that is good on earth and in Heaven and I long for You.

Allow me to humble myself in Your presence and praise You as one of Your children.  Grant me audience that You may speak to me, guide me, instruct me so my life is an honor and glory to You, Your power and Your might.

There are so many reasons to seek You Abba Father.  Prayer requests come from all sides every hour and second of our days.  Needs are great, evil is rampant but our hope and our help are in You.

Accept this prayer on behalf of those who are mourning the loss of fathers, brothers, mothers, sisters, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, children and friends.  Comfort their hearts.  If they know You, if they have a personal relationship with You, draw them to You, cover them with Your wings and hold them in their sorrow.  Strengthen them in their pain.  Guide them through their valley.  If they don’t know You, if it is You they need most of all, then I pray that somehow, someway, someone will be Your instrument to show those mourning of an opportunity to know You as their God, their Creator, their Abba, and their Savior.

Hear this prayer on behalf of those struggling in pain, discomfort and even life and death in hospitals, homes, shelters and life’s pathways around the world.  Comfort them.  Heal them Lord in the way You find fit.  Impart to doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and all the hosts of other medical staff the knowledge You have allowed mankind to know so that it can be used to help these children of Yours in physical pain.  Soothe their fragmented emotions.  Calm their fears.  Intervene Father with miraculous healings if that is Your will.  And for those Father for who this is a time to come face to face with the end of their lives, wrap them in Your embrace, show to them Your love and mercy and guide them home.  For any Lord who are facing these moments whose relationship with You is non-existent or broken, I plea with You to have final mercies and give them one more chance before their souls leave this earth, this life and face eternity with their choice.

Father I call upon You to help us be better stewards of all You have given us.  Whether we are blessed with little or much Abba Father help us use our allotment to honor You.  Where there are needs in personal and family finances God I call upon You to be for us the God who provides.  Where needs exist in Your work, whether that be local ministries or foreign missions, across lines of denominations, race, gender, economic status or anything else, grant us the privilege of being Your hands to provide with, where You are working to woo people to You please allow us some way of helping, of being used for Your glory.  Grant us the opportunity and the wisdom to seize those opportunities to further Your kingdom.

Abba I pray for my country.  For the United States of America I plea.  Open our eyes Lord to the selfish and self-serving nation we have become.  Cleanse us of self-appointed pet projects and return us to the One upon who our country was founded, was blessed by and who waits for us as one people to call upon Your name.  Our leaders God who know You, who try to walk with You and in the ways You would have them walk I plea for their strength, I plea for their endurance, I plea that their voices will be heard in a din of noise that creates chaos and discontent.  For our leaders who are not Your servants, who lead us or try to lead us, in ways that bring dishonor to You, that shame us before You I pray Lord that these leaders will come face to face with the reality of Your existence and fall prostrate before You.  Raise up in our country Christian men and women to lead us.  Call upon all Your children to pray for our country, for our leaders and dear Jesus, to pray that the decline of our morality be slowed and even halted.

Abba Father lift me beyond myself, above my circumstances, out of my situations into Your ways, Your paths, Your presence.  I am Your child and You are my God and help me cling to these facts in this world that seems to have gone mad.  Grant to my sisters and brothers in Christ the same.  Collect us together so that we might draw strength from You and one another.  Gather us from the far corners of this world under Your arm and hold us in the night and daytime hours of our fears, our needs and our work.

Amen

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The Passions

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Misguided Passion tore the goal post down,

God’s Passion sowed the seed,

Obsessed Passion stalked the movie star,

Loving Passion took the Gospel overseas.

 

Misguided Passion pulled the trigger,

God’s Passion achieved the dream,

Obsessed Passion collected knives and guns,

Loving Passion followed the Disciples Creed.

 

Misguided Passion turned to hatred,

God’s Passion moved in love,

Obsessed Passion took another’s life,

Loving Passion calls on God above.

 

Misguided Passion used for evil,

God’s Passion discernly ruled,

Obsessed Passion  runs amuck

Loving Passion is carefully schooled.

 

Misguided Passion in the Devil’s hand

God’s Passion of His heart,

Obsessed Passion spoiled by evil,

Loving Passion from God embarked.

 

Misguided Passion robs and corrupts

God’s Passion restores and forgives,

Obsessed Passion steals a man’s soul,

Loving Passion invites the soul to live.

 

Misguided Passion bids the earthly win

God’s Passion points to Him,

Obsessed Passion ruins a heart,

Loving Passion forgives our sin.

 

Which Passion will you choose today?

Which Passion will you take?

Which Passion is read in your life?

Which Passion is given for your sake?

The Best Investment in Our Children

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Those of us who are parents are constantly faced with challenges in raising our children.  As our own daughter nears adolescent the issues become more delicate and complex.

MC900440671Our daughter is 11 years old and in the sixth grade and she is a worrier.  She worries to the point that she can become a crying, miserable mess of emotions just thinking of something going wrong.  Not just “big” things but little ones as well.  Just yesterday she was approaching tears in the store as we searched for new sneakers for her because she was worried that we would not find any that suited her needs.  So when my eye caught this sentence when flipping through a ladies magazine, “Yet even in happy times, my son had been a worrier;” I stopped to read the article.

Reading it further I did so in a sense of disbelief, for once I read the title and subtitle I1000405372 couldn’t help but feel my heart sink within me.  “Surely,” I was thinking, “this isn’t what it truly talks about.”  The article title is “The Fortune-Teller’s Gift.  A crystal ball.  Gleeful fibs.  And the best $10 I’ve ever spent.”

Summing up the article Ms. Maynard’s son who at the time the article is written about, was 11-years-old and in the sixth grade.  He had always been a worrier but that year the worries had overwhelmed him and he rarely smiled or laughed anymore.  His mother, seeing her son’s misery evident by his slumped shoulders and subdued countenance after a holiday performance at school spotted a shop advertising fortune telling for $10.  They stopped and the fortune teller, who the mother recognized from her previous employment as a fast-food worker, took her son into the fortune telling session.  Twenty minutes later her son reappeared and Ms. Maynard paid the $10.  She learned from her son how perfect the rest of his life was going to be.

He was going to have a wonderful life, go to college, be a movie or rock star and marry a nice girl.  They would be the parents of a boy and a girl while living in a great house with a pool.  He was going to live a long life as were all the members of his family.  Even though his mother knew the fortune teller was a fraud and given her son hope based on a lie she wasn’t concerned.  Her son did grow up and find that the fortune teller had lied and his life did have troubles and he did have to learn how to deal with the issues in life beyond our control.  Still, Ms. Maynard considers the $10 she spent the best investment she ever made.  Her son got the message she herself wanted him to understand at that time, “Don’t worry.  You’ll be OK.”

MP900177811As Christian parents this mother’s choice certainly isn’t our choice to help our daughter learn to handle her worries and fears.  Last night, to continue with the example of the “could be” shoe disaster while her father continued to look for shoes, I took a moment to touch her hand, look into her eyes and remind her we hadn’t looked at all the shoes yet and that this wasn’t the only store we could go to.  We would find her shoes.  We then continued our hunt and quickly found her a pair that met her needs, our budget and were still stylish.

Our responses to our daughter’s worries vary, depending on the fear, situation and the time we have in the moment.  We sometimes address it enough to ease her mind and return to the issue when emotions aren’t as stirred up or time permits a deeper exploration of the problem.  We encourage her to pray about everything and pray with and for her in her presence and in our own times with God.  Together we explore the Bible for the truth she needs.  We’ve made her life affirmation Jeremiah 29:11.

We’ve also sought professional counseling services for her as well as medication when it was something that required that intervention.  We do not discount that there are times when intervention for people of all ages needs to be aided by professional help or other resources.  But we do not forget to point her towards the ultimate resource for seeking guidance on her future, assurance for her worries and calmness for her heart – God.

It’s not my place to say Ms. Maynard made a bad decision.  It isn’t the decision I would make.  Yes, her son got the message she wanted him to get, that everything would be okay, but it was hope based on the words of a fortune teller and that doesn’t work for our family.  We don’t discount that there are people who practice things that are empowered for sources other than God but God’s word gives us some very clear understanding of how He views trusting practices such as fortune telling.  Specific scriptures relating to this issue are given below.

Indulge me this one question.  Of the investments we as parents make in our children everyday what do you consider your greatest investment?

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These are not the only scriptures pertaining to this subject in the Bible.  References are from the New Internation Version of the Bible.

Everyone should study God’s word on their own with the counsel of the Holy Spirit and the use of trustworthy resources.

“Acts 16: 16 Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” 18 She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so troubled that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her.”

“Deuteronomy 18: 9 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you. 13 You must be blameless before the LORD your God.”

“II Chronicles 33: 1 Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. 2 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites. 3 He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had demolished; he also erected altars to the Baals and made Asherah poles. He bowed down to all the starry hosts and worshiped them. 4 He built altars in the temple of the LORD, of which the LORD had said, “My Name will remain in Jerusalem forever.” 5 In both courts of the temple of the LORD, he built altars to all the starry hosts. 6 He sacrificed his sons in the fire in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, practiced sorcery, divination and witchcraft, and consulted mediums and spiritists. He did much evil in the eyes of the LORD, provoking him to anger. 7 He took the carved image he had made and put it in God’s temple, of which God had said to David and to his son Solomon, “In this temple and in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, I will put my Name forever. 8 I will not again make the feet of the Israelites leave the land I assigned to your forefathers, if only they will be careful to do everything I commanded them concerning all the laws, decrees and ordinances given through Moses.” 9 But Manasseh led Judah and the people of Jerusalem astray, so that they did more evil than the nations the LORD had destroyed before the Israelites. 10 The LORD spoke to Manasseh and his people, but they paid no attention. 11 So the LORD brought against them the army commanders of the king of Assyria, who took Manasseh prisoner, put a hook in his nose, bound him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.”

“Galatians 5: 16 So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. 17 For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law.19 The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

“Jeremiah 29: 6 Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. 7 Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” 8 Yes, this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says: “Do not let the prophets and diviners among you deceive you. Do not listen to the dreams you encourage them to have. 9 They are prophesying lies to you in my name. I have not sent them,” declares the LORD. 10 This is what the LORD says: “When seventy years are completed for Babylon, I will come to you and fulfill my gracious promise to bring you back to this place. 11 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. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the LORD, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” 15 You may say, “The LORD has raised up prophets for us in Babylon,” 16 but this is what the LORD says about the king who sits on David’s throne and all the people who remain in this city, your countrymen who did not go with you into exile—“

…a time to tear down and a time to build…Ecclesiastes 3:3b N.I.V.

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Yesterday my grief and depression teamed up to go to battle with another team within me, grit and determination, before the morning light filtered through the window shades.  Despite my intentions I forfeited to team number one.  By doing so when I picked up our daughter from school I had spent the last five hours either asleep curled up under the covers or silently naming things that began with the letters of the alphabet backwards until sleep would claim me again.  Being awake was too painful.

Yet as I backed out of our garage I managed a genuine smile as the continual promised gray skies have yielded to surprise sunshine, driving the grayness of the outside away.  My smile wasn’t plastered on so our daughter wouldn’t know I was hiding my feelings from her and the ignition of the homework routine wasn’t a battle for me, even the math.  While I didn’t manage to accomplish much on my “to do” list, having given into my despair, it helped.  Though I must promise myself not to allow many days like yesterday.  Grief has to be worked through and I have to be careful not to pity myself into a break with reality.

Today, as I didn’t start on the portion of my list of tasks yesterday, I have only one major task to accomplish:  the farewell steps of leaving my professional career.  It has to be today for I have no other choice now.  I’ve waited for a reprieve and none has arrived.  I’ve prayed for a miracle either a miracle of healing or of changed minds and attitudes but it hasn’t been granted.  Today I will:

  • Pack up 13 years of my professional life.  Give away what I do not want and bring the rest home to either incorporate into our home’s décor or go to a local mission thrift shop tomorrow.
  • Type up and turn in my withheld letter of resignation because I have yet to accept, yes even now, that this is happening.
  • Turn in my “wad of keys”, ID badge, parking decal, Wal-Mart credit card and Sam’s Membership Card to Human Resources.
  • Drive toward home no longer employed, no longer able to identify myself as what I do for a living and tasting the bitterness of knowing I am now a case number with the long term disability insurance company and soon, with Social Security.

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I am struck suddenly, with the realization of how familiar the feelings I am having now mirror the ones I had before my amputation.  Feelings of being herded into a decision I didn’t want to make but had to.  Realizing I’ve used up my last options.  Knowing the hour is fast approaching when I will have those last moments to stop this door from opening and closing behind me.

Really, I could and I feel the urge to do so like I felt the urge to yell, “No, I’ve changed my mind!” when I was being wheeled towards the operating room to have my leg amputated.  Legally my job is mine until the last minute of my F.M.L.A. runs out on January 10.  I could have my doctor fax over a release to return to work and wheel in on the 9th ready to work an eight hour day or a ten hour one.

But I know I won’t.  At least I don’t imagine I will.  Just like I didn’t change my mind about the amputation because the reality is what the reality is for I can’t work four to five eight to twelve hour days anymore.  My body just won’t take the pressure or the stress.  I risk my life to keep working, for the next time the blood clot could kill me.  How many times has God dodged that bullet for me?  Or the next infection which my body doesn’t even fight on its own anymore, will be so out of control by the time I get to help it will have progressed to far to save my life.

The door is opening, my own hand is on the knob and the weight of me and my power chair are propelling it to yield to us…

Behind me are the ruins of a time of my life in which I’ve felt successful, useful, needed, respected…

The time to tear down has for the time being, reached a final phase.  I can’t see what is on the other side of this doorway but I know, “I never walk alone.”

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Cold and Gray

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It’s cold outside and gray.  The sky is the gray of lead and the air is gray with layers of soupy fog.  The weather on television promised no sunshine until next week.  On the short drive to our daughter’s elementary school the car’s heater chugs out streams of warm air, which she cuts off on her side of the car, leaving me a double portion of warmth.  In my mind it too is gray, a fleece blanket of gray heat wrapping itself around me.  Having dropped her off I briefly consider driving eight miles to get a decent cup of coffee but decide not to.   I drive right back home and ready to go into the house.

The garage floor is gray, that fact penetrates my thoughts as I drive my power chair up the ramp into the house.  I close the door on the grayness of the garage floor as I’ve closed it on the grayness of the world outside but I can’t close off the gray thoughts in my mind.

Grief has settled into my heart and seems determined to stay.  It’s been 19 months and I should be past all this, I tell myself, but it does no good.  I recall, in pieces, bits of a dream I had last night, a black and white dream fitting to my gray mood.  My mother and I are talking.  I can see us although I can’t make out what we’re saying.  I dream a lot about her lately.  She’s been in heaven almost 13 years now.  I also dream of my father, not as often, he will be gone four years this coming February, just next month.  In my dreams they are both still alive, still with us and when I wake I want nothing more than to pick up the phone and talk to my mother.  Awake her death seems to hit me all over again but although it hurts, the hurt doesn’t linger like it did when she passed.  Then it was overwhelming, the grief, the pain rocking my world and I remember that first night when I lay exhausted by the grief of that day thinking, “How is the world going on out there when our world stopped today?  Don’t they know nothing is the same?  It will never be the same again.”

Once in the house I want nothing more than to work my way back into bed, burrow beneath the covers and go back to sleep.  My eyes are heavy with the need to just close.  My mind seems detached as it reminds me of things I need to do besides sleep.  The Christmas tree needs to be undecorated.  I’ve got the family pictures to finish arranging and prepare for being hung, along with the last of the frames painted black.  I should be on my way to Birmingham to pack up but I put it off until this afternoon.  The heat is running, I can feel it blowing, but I am chilly.  Again, the bed and the covers call to me.

As I move from my power chair to the bed I can’t help but be reminded of my loss.  In my dreams I haven’t experienced this loss.  I walk, drive, shop, and sing; all the normal activities of my prior life without the aid of anyone. The dependence I have now on someone to go with me to shop angers me.  Though I can drive I can’t get out of the car and go into a place without a wheelchair.  I can’t get a wheelchair out of the car without scratching the car and doing more damage to the wheelchair.  Other things, such as singing in the choir or special music at church are gone, just gone.

Nineteen months.  I want free of this grayness, this renewed depression but it seems to be part of my soul.

I want it back.  I want to go back to those moments when the hospital staff are wheeling me out of the pre-op room and the realization I can still say no comes to my mind.  If I could go back, would I say no?  Yes, but to what avail?  I would need to go further back and fix so many wrongs, remake so many decisions that I can’t unravel the paths of life that brought me to that operation 19 months ago.  I can’t pinpoint the beginning of what resulted in the need for the amputation.  Could I have gone back and turned the tide at any one place would it be enough?  Again I am swept away by the realization regardless, it can’t be done.

Outside it is cold and gray.   Inside, in spite of the electric lights, the heater easing away the cold it is cold and gray too.  In my heart it is cold and gray.  Only cold and gray everywhere…

“…a time to mourn and a time to dance,…” Ecclesiastes 3:4b (N.I.V.)

 (As I am neither a Biblical scholar or in any way knowledgeable concerning the languages used to write the original scriptures I cannot incorporate the scripture into my life based on what I do not know or understand.  That is why as I read and pray about scripture I depend on the Holy Spirit to counsel me and take the English translation as it is written, with the notes in my N.I.V. Study Bible and whatever books I have read on the particular passage.

Having witnessed, in person, the danger of following someone’s instruction or interpretation of the scripture based on an unsound foundation; I would never advocate someone to base their spiritual live on how I believe the scripture reads.  I urge each person to seek their answers for themselves.  Never except for truth what you cannot find solid basis for in the scripture for yourself along with the leadership of the Holy Spirit and the teaching of someone with knowledge of the languages and background of the Bible you may lack.)

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This series of blogs began fermenting last month with a weird and disturbing dream I had.  This is the dream:

I am watching the funeral procession of Abraham Lincoln as it comes down a long brick paved avenue.  The horse-drawn wagon with the flag draped coffin of the President is approaching a circular part of the road and in the center of that circle is a fountain surrounded by flowers.  Then I am in the wagon, holding on for dear life to the coffin containing President Lincoln, fighting against the bumpy road and the jarring of his coffin that seems to be about to cause the coffin to end up in the road.  Suddenly the axle or wheel breaks on the “rear passenger side” of the wagon as it hits an unseen pothole in the roadway.  The wagon falls.  Now I am attempting against an even greater pull of gravity and laws of nature, to keep Lincoln’s coffin from sliding to the ground and perhaps his body tumbling out.

I can feel my muscles straining, feel the coffin slipping from my hand holds and I go from thinking, “I can’t let this happen!” to thinking, “Wait this isn’t really happening!”  It occurs to me that what I am taking part of has any basis in the history I’ve read about.  People are yelling at me, no one is helping me, and I am now too yelling, “This isn’t real, right?  This can’t be real!”

Then I woke up, just as I am sure Lincoln’s body tumbles from the coffin but whether Lincoln’s coffin and/or his body falls out of the wagon I do not know although had I stayed asleep long enough I am certain both would have.  It was disturbing and rather creepy.  I posted the dream on my Facebook page.

A few days later an old friend of mine from high school who is now a minister told me he was no dream interpreter but that he had seen a lot of symbolism in my dream.  Having caused my interest to peak I asked him about it and privately he emailed me what he felt was an interpretation of my dream given to him by our God.  My friend, Fred*, wasn’t sure I’d accept what he had to say as a message inspired by God.  He was also unsure whether I would be offended or whether I was in a place to hear what he had to say.

But I was ready, for the first uneasiness caused by my dream had passed and all the wise cracks about what food I had eaten or changes in my medication had occurred.  What Fred didn’t know was what God would remind and show to me when I took what Fred had said and God and I “talked it over” during my quiet time with Him.  When it all came together I was left having to acknowledge that my dream was filled with symbolism of my life now.

Fred went on to tell me, in the love of God and of old and tried friendship, what I needed to do to move on with my life.  I haven’t embraced that revelation as willingly as I have the interpretation of my dream itself.  Fred told me to do so much I knew had to be done and that I so DON’T WANT TO DO.

As the year 2012 drew to a close and 2013 began I found myself acknowledging many things.  The post I made at midnight New Year’s Day spoke of winter being for me, an odd time to celebrate new life for things are dormant instead of bursting with new life.  But winter affords us the time to PREPARE for new life.  It is the time we stay closer to home and hearth and family.  It is the time farmers repair equipment, merchants plan the stocking of new wares for spring, heartier soups and stews are prepared, the sun rises later and fades sooner, past times of reading, studying and crossword puzzles seem perfect activities.  It is a when one has time to think.  It is often a time when travel is more risky and one has to think of how to deal with ice, sleet, snow, wind and low temperatures.

It is not a time I am accustom to taking a vacation or journey.  Yet here I am on this journey.  I am straining against reality.  I am fighting to uphold a way of life I held dear and against the loss of it for it means dependence on others that my earlier life taught me was dangerous.  I’ve known this day was coming; I just never could stomach the realities of it.  Now, I have no choice.  Without a doubt the axle/wheel is broken for my left leg is gone from above the knee down and in trying to keep “what was” on the wagon on it there has been a tremendous physical strain on me.  I cannot accept on my deepest levels, that what is happening is happening, that it is real.  I am as much confused by my own thoughts and feelings as I am by those outside of me yelling at me so loudly I cannot hear what they are saying.

I am entering the “winter” of this time for me, both by the calendar and in my life.  I have to take the time to prepare for new life, sort through what needs to be mended or let go of, do the mending or the cleaning out and readying for spring.  Part of that is going to be rejoicing as the new spring arrives and part of that is going to be mourning what is dead and of no longer use to me.

I’m not sure how one “mourns” the loss of a limb or observes the end of one way of life while readying for the start of another.  I am sure of this though, it is going to be painful and it is going to be challenging.  It is going to be exciting and it is going to be an affirmation of life.  It is going to be covered with the fingerprints of God.

It is also my hope that others who are in a time of mourning for whatever loss in this winter season will find a light to help them find the pathway through.  It doesn’t matter if where you are it is 101 or -31 degrees outside for this winter season is here for you as it is for me regardless of what the calendar reads.  The time of mourning arrives with the death of what we will mourn.

Will you join me in whatever way you can during this winter of my life?

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New Year?

The “official” start of winter is mid- December, followed quickly by Christmas, upon whose heels tramps the end and beginning of a new year.  For many the symbol of the departing year is an old man, usually looking much more worse for the wear than we want. The new year is then symbolized as a newborn baby. 

Ah…..New baby, new life, someone has hit the restart button…some even view a new year’s fresh beginning as a “redo”.  For them it is a chance to “get it right”.  Many spend considerable time and effort analyzing what they’ve done wrong and setting goals or resolutions for “fixing” themselves, their mates, their families, their lives, marriages, careers…even their spiritual lives…their relationships with God.

It seems ironic to me, that we begin a “new year” as the season of winter swings in.  New starts seem more symbolically represented in spring.  Right?  New leaves are sprouting, new flowers are blooming, farmers ready their fields and sow their seeds, birds that flew south for the winter return from where they came, and Easter arrives on the calender.  Easter is filled with symbols of new starts, new beginnings.  I am sure if I bothered to research who set our calendars, divided the hours, months, days I would see the reasoning.  But, for this article it seems a moot point.  We observe our calendar’s new year when the earth around us is dormant.

I always think of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 when observing the time the calendar tells me it is a new year. 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:  a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time to war and a time for peace.”

This year, as I type out the words of my favorite passage of God’s Word, I am thoughtful that even in winter, our lives go on.  Unlike seeds that are dormant in the ground or animals that hibernate so that they slow down or arrest their growth, our bodies keep growing and dying. Our hearts fall in love and they break.  Every action, word, thought has a light and a dark period.

The calendar doesn’t have to dictate our new year, our new start, our season or activity.  For me this is both a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to weep and a time to laugh,  a time to speak and a time to be silent…

I pray it is the same for you.  As 2012 ends, 2013 begins and we are who we are and we are in whatever season God has lead us to.  Perhaps right now I have more to mourn and weep over than to dance and laugh about. Perhaps I have a lot to speak about or to be silent about. This is the time to which God has called me.  Let it be!

Happy New Year, whether you are preparing for spring and dormant for a while, or bursting with fresh air to start anew, harvesting the fruits of your labors in the crisp fall air or preparing for the cold weather ahead, whatever your season, God is as near as you invite Him to be.  God bless.