Today is January 1, 2017 and yesterday was so last year. I stayed awake to ring in the new year with my husband. Normally I get sleepy by 9:30pm and find myself crawling in bed by 10:00pm. Because I stayed awake, I, along with millions of other people, either in New York Times Square or sitting comfortably in our homes in front of a television or other electronic device, were witness to Mariah Carey’s train-wreck of a show minutes before the ball drop. Much to her chagrin, her reputation needs repair. I can only guess what her New Year’s Resolution is for 2017. However, a big round of applause goes to her backup dancers as they did a great job!
On February 12 my husband, and I, said good-bye to our little girl, Bean. She was the sweetest Grey Tiger-striped kitty who we adopted from a local no-kill cat shelter years ago. My husband picked her out and the first day in our house, she owned it. She sat up on the couch and took a nap, all while our other cats were sniffing her acquaintance. On December 5, my niece passed away. She was an awesome mom to her children and had a huge heart for helping people. We are blessed to know how many lives she touched in her short 31 years of life. My summation for 2016 is that the good die young.
This past year was heart-breaking, to say the least, but knowing that God is close to the broken-hearted brings me peace. That means He is near to me, my husband, my family, and Jill’s friends, holding us close as we mourn.
Isaiah 43:18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.” But our minds hit replay on many episodes of days gone by, conversations that happened or didn’t happen, loved ones who were called home to eternity, or the voice of the doctor delivering news of a grave illness just discovered. God is close to the broken-hearted and he offers His outstretched hand for us to walk into 2017 with Him. Yes, God can even help restore Mariah Carey’s reputation if she reaches out to Him.
Isaiah 41:10 So Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
May God Bless you in 2017.
If change is inevitable, why do we have such a hard time when it happens?
From my childhood recollection, the days were longer; my parents worked for the same company from the day I was born to the day they retired, and our family schedule was so consistent you could set your clock by our routine. But as I age, the days seem shorter, working for one company your whole career is unheard of, and nobody needs a routine because cable television has a convenient feature called DVR.
Consistency is comforting. My cats know when it’s feeding time, my spouse always returns home, and my playlists on my iPod are programmed with my favorite songs. But what happens when there is a shift from the norm?
The Pastor of my church made that shift from the norm. He wasn’t even with us for a full year before he left abruptly about two weeks ago. No good-bye party, no parting gifts, no keeping in touch; just gone from our lives due to personal reasons. We were left cold in our pews with a void in leadership. However, God has blessed my congregational family with a stand-in Pastor who led our congregation less than a year ago. He sympathizes with our heavy hearts. I believe his reassuring words today were Spirit-inspired messages from our God and Father, as they were genuine and comforting.
Change is inevitable. From my Christian perspective, our days are a gift from God, He knows us from before conception to the day we will die. Even Pastors change careers, and routines are hard to keep because the world is forever evolving. The abrupt departure may not make sense to my congregation, but we are pulling together once again because we have faith in the God we serve. He will not leave us nor will he forsake us, He will not leave us orphans as He holds us up with his righteous right hand. God is our comforting consistency.
For the Pastor that left us, the stand-in Pastor that is with us, and the Pastor that is to come, I pray these words from 2 Thessalonians 1:11
With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith.
Finding just one aspect of myself that I consider to be my worst quality is hard because I am human; I am flawed in many ways. I will become top-shelf quality when I die as my soul will reunite with my creator. However, while in my physical body, I must be honest and admit that I am a wasteful person.
I am wasting precious time on this earth hoarding my skills and talents because I let fear keep me in its grip. God has given me a nurturing and caring personality, but I find myself being cold and careless with His creation. God has given me a creative mind, but I remain in a career that does not recognize or fertilize this gift. I waste time sitting on my hands calling it writer’s block even though my dream is to write a book. I make more excuses than I do plans; I waste precious time with family and friends.
It is not easy to admit that waste is my worst quality. I am ashamed to call this to the forefront of all my flaws. The good thing is, now that I have this out in the open, I can evaluate what is going on and start to make changes.
Can you be honest with yourself today and call out your worst quality?
Psalm 23:4 New International Version (NIV)
Even though I walk
through the darkest valley,[a]
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
Lord, please use me in any way you need me.
Prayer of St. Francis
By Sebastian Temple
Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.
Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness only light,
And where there’s sadness ever joy.
Oh Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand,
To be loved as to love with all my soul.
Make me a channel of your peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
In giving of ourselves that we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.
1 Samuel 3:8-10 (NIV)
A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
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.