The church I attend has been without a permanent Pastor for approximately two years. Our Bishop called Pastor Michael Kemper, who is a full-time Interim Pastor, to fill in and shepherd our flock.
After the entrance hymn, opening prayers, and before the readings, Pastor Mike invites the little children to join him on the steps to the altar to sit around him as he shares a story, on their level, based on the Bible readings for the day. Pastor Mike’s first children’s sermon was a little longer than our church family had ever heard. The second week, a little boy asked Pastor if he was going to tell them a long story again. Oh, such honesty. As time pressed forward, Pastor Mike told his stories at whatever length was necessary to get the message across and I feel that no one, young or old, concerned themselves with a time limit as he is an engaging story-teller. My inner child would always run up to the altar, with the little children, to hear their special sermon.
Pastor Mike never gave a bad sermon to the adults either. Truly, I wish he would write books as I know he would be my favorite author.
On October 2, 2011, we will blot tears from our eyes as we wave good-bye to Pastor Mike and his lovely wife, Jane. The Bishop has a new assignment for our favorite Interim Pastor. My inner child is throwing a tantrum because I do not want him to leave. My adult self understands that people must pass through our lives as they serve God’s purpose for our growth as well as their own. If I feel this way about my Interim Pastor, just think how the people felt in the towns that Jesus passed through during his ministry. I hope our paths will cross again on this earth, but if not, I will look for Pastor Mike in heaven some day.
Pastor Mike, you have given our church stability at a time we felt broken, prayed for us when we could not, and shared your smile every time we saw you. Our congregation is blessed to have been under your leadership. I pray the church(es) you serve will realize you are a blessing from God.
On November 9, 2010 I came out of the closet on this blog. Not the typical closet that most are accustomed to hearing about; I came out of an even more secret closet…the childless closet. This is the blog Blessing in Disguise, if you have not read it before.
It was a very vulnerable move on my part as only select people were privy to this information in the past. So why did I do it? I did it because I made peace with this part of my life.
I am a charter member of ChildlessNotByChoice, a childless website begun in 2002. I owe so much to Diane and Kimberly who founded the site out of their own need for a childless community. I thank the members there for their virtual hand-holding and understanding of the pain, fears, and frustrations of being childless not by choice. With all of their support, I have been able to make peace with my surgically removed dreams of motherhood.
For years I focused on the fact that children are a gift from God, and I wasn’t given this gift. I felt left out and I allowed this to block my view of all of the other blessings that God has given me. I realized this week that even though I am a parent to none, God’s children are everywhere and every age. I am able to share His word and love with God’s children I never bore.
I made my exit from the childless closet to let you know that while I was in there, I struggled with what I thought should have been my blessing. In my humanness, I was angry and confused with God.
Today, I am walking in faith, by the grace of God, knowing that I am right where I should be. I extend to you my virtual hand to hold, along with my virtual shoulder to lean on, from this day forward. I am willing to listen to you without judging, walk along side you without running away, and pray for you unceasingly. Whatever burden you carry, I want you to know the love of God.
This is a confidential invitation. I will only share your burdens in prayer with God.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
I am usually an early riser. It doesn’t matter if it is the weekend or a day off, I love a good sunrise. My mantra has been, “the early bird gets the worm”. Plus, I love long days.
In the spring and summer I tend to play a little game in the morning called, “who will rise first”. This game is played with the neighborhood birds and me. I try to rise before the first bird rolls out of the nest and let’s out it’s first chirp of the day.
You may think this is a little strange, especially to all of the night-owls reading this post after noon when you roll out of bed. All I am doing is raising my awareness of the beautiful creation God has given us. In fact, as I sit here on this beautiful sunny Saturday morning, I do not hear any birds chirping. My little friends have started to head south for the winter.
I challenge you to sit in awareness today. Let me know what facet of God’s creation piques your awareness. Feel free to share in the comments section below.
Mark 1:35 (NIV)
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
I just returned from a business trip in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is what I noticed as I traveled alone in the airport.
Her giggles caught my attention as I ate my lunch in the food court. A metal railing corralled patrons systematically through the food ordering process, but to a 4-year-old girl, the railing was a jungle gym. I watched as her older brother joined in the fun and tried to teach her some new daring moves. They were having so much fun being kids while their father stood nearby waiting for their food order.
At one point, someone behind the counter turned on a blender and the noise startled the little girl. She covered her delicate ears and ran behind her father for protection.
Sitting on a tiny plane for the last leg of my journey, the woman sitting next to me was traveling home with her husband and their 17-year-old son. The airline made an error in ticketing this family and the son was on a different flight heading to their hometown while the parents were on my flight and planned to drive 45 miles to get home.
The son sent a text to his father alerting him that the airport changed the departure gate for his flight. He became lost in the large airport and feared that he’d miss the flight that was nearing take-off; just as our plane was about to shut the door for take-off. The father rushed off the plane to find his lost son.
When life turns on “the blender” and we get scared, we can stand behind Jesus anytime and He will protect us. Jesus told a parable about the shepherd who was missing one sheep. The shepherd left the flock to rescue the lost one.
Being a witness to two Bible stories in real-time made my trip a complete success.
John 14:27 (NIV)
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?
I will follow.
I must decrease so Christ can increase.
Matthew 16:24 (NIV)
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
I was present at the birth of my great-niece almost eight years ago. I was standing next to the crib where she was placed within seconds of entering the world. I watched wide-eyed in amazement at how the nurse cleaned her up, cleared out her nostrils, mouth and eyes. She was so little and dependent on everyone around her. This precious child of God will need food, clothing and shelter, I thought, and I knew her needs would be met by the loving family who waited for her arrival.
Under the veil of protection, some children do not receive the proper food, clothing and shelter they deserve. Some families do not realize children are a gift from God and so the children are mistreated as objects instead of humans.
My first encounter with child abuse was by reading the book A Child Called “It”: One Child’s Courage to Survive, written by Dave Pelzer about his own experience. Dave’s mother was mentally disturbed and an alcoholic. She mentally and physically abused him with tortuous games only she thought were amusing. Child abuse is often cyclical. Once abused, that person will abuse and that person will abuse, and so the ripple effect moves on. Dave was able to overcome and broke this chain of destruction in his family.
Some children are sexually abused. Usually the abused knows the abuser. Sexually abused children are threatened to remain silent and this silence may bring about behavioral changes. The following is taken from http://www.stopitnow.org/warning_signs_child_behavior April 9, 2011.
Behavior you may see in a child or adolescent
Has nightmares or other sleep problems without an explanation
Seems distracted or distant at odd times
Has a sudden change in eating habits
Refuses to eat
Loses or drastically increases appetite
Has trouble swallowing
Sudden mood swings: rage, fear, insecurity or withdrawal
Leaves “clues” that seem likely to provoke a discussion about sexual issues
Writes, draws, plays or dreams of sexual or frightening images
Develops new or unusual fear of certain people or places
Refuses to talk about a secret shared with an adult or older child
Talks about a new older friend
Suddenly has money, toys or other gifts without reason
Thinks of self or body as repulsive, dirty or bad
Exhibits adult-like sexual behaviors, language and knowledge
Signs more typical of younger children
An older child behaving like a younger child (such as bed-wetting or thumb sucking)
Has new words for private body parts
Resists removing clothes when appropriate times (bath, bed, toileting, diapering)
Asks other children to behave sexually or play sexual games
Mimics adult-like sexual behaviors with toys or stuffed animal
Wetting and soiling accidents unrelated to toilet training
Signs more typical in adolescents
Self-injury (cutting, burning)
Inadequate personal hygiene
Drug and alcohol abuse
Running away from home
Fear of intimacy or closeness
Compulsive eating or dieting
You cannot pick a child abuser out of a crowd, but you can pick up on the warning signs listed above. Reach out to a child or adolescent, they need you to be their silent voice.
I witnessed my beautiful great-niece coming into the world and I know she is a gift from God. I would do everything in my power to protect her and her siblings.
2 Thessalonians 3:2-3 (New International Version, ©2011)
And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.