Archive | September, 2016

A Mom’s Prayer on National “See you at the Pole” Day

28 Sep

I parked strategically, near enough to see the small group of teens huddled around the flag pole in the rain, but far enough away that I couldn’t see my son roll his eyes if he spotted me in what was clearly his “space.”

There amid the hustle and bustle of cars, buses, horns, and umbrellas, I prayed. Grateful to be living in a time when public prayer is still allowed, grateful that my youngest is unapologetic about bowing his head to the Lord in front of his friends and peers, and grateful to know that this scene is being repeated at schools across the country today. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll lament that such a sight may one day disappear in this nation’s race to proclaim tolerance for everything BUT the Living God, but today I feel only peace.

It’s fitting, I think, that they’re gathered around another symbol being bashed in the latest cause du jour, and I pray that each continues to hold the other up through the battles we all know are coming.

I’m so proud of these young people. These are the ones who will carry our nation forward, who will be asked to do and accept things we never imagined could be forced upon us. They’re told today that it’s perfectly acceptable for a healthy child who lived and grew in its mother’s womb for nine months to be killed on its way into the world because mom doesn’t want “it.” And they’re told that this beautiful child, whose clear blue eyes would have been able to move and blink and see and process light using ten interconnected components has a lineage that traces back to an amoeba, and that those eyes somehow evolved out of nothing. They’re going to need thick skin and strong foundations to stand firm as people they consider friends today spit on them tomorrow, hurling vile threats and claiming their Jesus is a harbinger of hate.

Which is why I pray today, not for the schools, because I know that’s what they’re doing now. They are praying their school remain a safe and healthy place to learn, that truth be taught without bias in their classrooms, that healthy and solid friendships form, and that everyone in the school feel accepted and free to pursue those unique interests that give each of them joy and purpose. They’re praying for believers and non-believers alike, for their families, their friends, and for the future of their nation.

ebenezer

We can know, because we have seen.

But in my car on the side lines, I pray for each child in the group, for moral and spiritual strength as they head into adulthood. That they push forward to do good works for Jesus’ sake, and not their own. That they choose the paths they know to be right, regardless of difficulty. That they might each demonstrate to those around them the inexplicable, unquenchable love of Jesus in such a way that the NOT-evolved eyes on our college campuses are opened and ears unstopped. That this generation of Believers will never be silenced.

Will you add your voice to mine today, and to theirs, and to those of the angels in Heaven? Pray with all the gladness and thanksgiving you can muster, because your voice matters. Remember, where there is one person praying, there is always hope.

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Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6

 

 

A Story is Born: From the Remnants Just Released

12 Sep

It’s official!

Today Cathy Schrader and I released “From the Remnants, A Story of Light and Hope.

bookcover

Click on Book Cover to Order! …And thank you. 🙂

It is the true story of Cathy’s journey from heart-shattering brokeness to a place of healing and purpose.

This book is for anyone whose faith in God has been tested by the sudden and unexplainable loss of a loved one. Although we all race through life understanding its inherit brevity, we sometimes take for granted the days we’re given to share with those we love. We choose our paths based on what we expect they hold for us. However, God, in his sovereign mercy, knowing infinitely more about our journey than we do ourselves, sometimes allows devastation in our lives by calling our loved one to Himself sooner than we could have predicted, turning those paths into dead-end roads, and thereby prompting that age-old question:

Why, God?

This book responds with the age-old answer:

We don’t know.

Because we’re not God.

However, sometimes, if we press forward through the anger and pain, and we resolve to retain our faith despite the apparent senselessness of it all, we can catch a glimpse of the larger picture—an aerial view, so to speak—of our lives and purpose through His eyes.

This vision may not, and probably won’t heal the scars of our suffering, but it’s not supposed to. Those scars brought us to the place we are, to a place of awareness that we are not the author of our own destiny, but that we can walk with the One who is. And when we walk with Him, we can know we’re on the course he intended for us to travel. Only then can we truly receive the joy and peace He has placed along the way.

I invite you to walk briefly along Cathy’s path, and to discover as she did, that God’s ways are not our ways, but when we trust him, they tend to be just a tad better…

Blessings and Happy Reading!

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Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or imagine, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen. – Ephesians 3:19-21

Teachers: Perpetual Sowers of an Unseen Harvest

6 Sep

Every September I get this colossal sense of wonder and gratitude regarding the men and women to whom we’ve entrusted the minds and dreams of our children. Where would we be without these wonderful people who can explain concepts to our children that, let’s face it, we don’t understand ourselves? Some of the concepts that elude me include the binary code, why Pluto isn’t a planet, and, if atoms are made up of 99.9% empty space, how can we touch things? And the greatest mystery of all: math.

Teachers Rock.

Have you stopped to think about this lately? They have the power to inspire, crush, see, ignore, challenge, nurture, and motivate our children, and they are the ones who actually teach our children what they need to know to make it to the next milestone and beyond. That’s a power we shouldn’t take lightly, but pray about and praise when we find the ones with that extra something. I’m excited to think that someone my son has just met may be the person he looks back on with gratitude, the one who first recognized his gift and planted those first seeds of encouragement that turned into a career.

Yes, that teacher will always be special, the way I still remember Mr. DeRobbio handing my essay back to me in the 9th grade and saying, “You might want to consider becoming a writer.” But he alone didn’t bring me to this place. It took years of passionate, patient, sorely overworked and underpaid teachers, each adding seeds of wisdom and encouragement to the pot to make a whole me. And behind the scenes were hundreds of administrators and support staff collecting data, answering phones, shelving books, fixing lunches, and mopping floors to ensure we had a healthy, safe, and nourishing environment for learning. (I’m married to a man we all call The Lunchroom Lady, so he gets props too!)

Consider the blog page you’re reading right now. The very fact that I can string 900 words together for you to and you can actually read a 900-word blog (I know, I know, you just look at the pictures, but you could if you wanted to) says we had some pretty good teachers. Mr. DeRobbio not only encouraged even my weirdest writing in high school (I’ve read some recently and wondered what he could possibly have been thinking), but he also introduced me to that beautiful creature: the short story, and he led me to write for the school paper. The rest is history.

But it doesn’t stop there. I’m able to set the words on the page thanks to ten months in Mrs. Mahoney’s Typing 101 class, where we sat in rows before our enormous gray Smith-Corona Super Sterlings chanting “A S D F Semi L K J!” (Sure, kids today can two-thumb the Gettysburg Address in the time it took me to slide the carriage return, but at least I know what the MR key does. . . did. . . whatever.)

And speaking of the Gettysburg Address, I wouldn’t have been able to slide that snarkism in there were it not for Mr. Delgado, my history teacher (whose funky wrap-around comb-over and snow-drift dandruff shoulders are hauntingly unforgettable). Mr. D managed to make the American Revolution and Civil War come alive for me, and give me an appreciation for back story, and his sense of humor taught me that writing needn’t be boring.

Even my math and science teachers contributed. (Strange, but I cannot remember the names of any of my math or science teachers. Is that a writer’s subliminal rebellion?) These people whose ways are alien to me taught other people enough about math and coding to hold this webpage together without duct tape, and enough about circuits, components, electricity, batteries, and that mysterious binary code to make computers, thereby eliminating the need for an MR key. They inspired the kinds of imaginations that made search engines work so you can find me, and some mystical network of tubing under the oceans that keeps the lines of communication humming, and don’t even get me started on touch-screen technology, because I’m already way over my head here. All of this so I can entertain you for ten minutes once a week and hopefully inspire you to read my books.

Seagul in the mist

They teach us to fly, but know not where we land…

Fascinating, don’t you think? But I’d like you to consider something else all those wonderful people have in common: Most teachers share your hopes and dreams for your children, yet never find out whether those dreams were realized. They’ve sown thousands of seeds over the years, and they may have set hundreds of young men and women on right paths, but how many of their former students ever report back?

I contacted Mr. DeRobbio back in 1993 when the Marine Corps named me Print Journalist of the Year, and I thanked him for making it possible. He was thrilled to learn that I not only wrote for a living but had achieved a measure of success, and he struck up a regular correspondence, even coming to Virginia to visit me once. When he passed away a few years ago, I could grieve without regretting that he never knew what his passion had produced in at least one of his students.

Is there a teacher in your past who deserves a thank-you note? I challenge you to get in touch if you still can, and congratulate that person on a job well done, because you turned out GREAT!

Even if it’s a math teacher.

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Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants. –Deuteronomy 32:2