Many people tell me I’m blessed to still have my mother, and I agree.
I am also blessed to have many good memories of my father. Leukemia took his life in 1982. Like all fathers, he was not a perfect man, but he was faithful and loving to his family.
But when I think of my blessings in having a good dad, I know there are so many children, young and old, who do not have good memories of their fathers. Single moms heading one-parents families are common today. Some fathers are absentees, choosing to have nothing to do with the responsibilities of caring for their children. Some fathers have decided their careers or making a lot of money is more important. Some fathers think their job is to be a dictator, or they use verbal, physical, and sexual abuse to control their children.
I thought of this when I wrote Father’s Day greetings on Facebook this year.
My prayer is that you fathers will remember how much your children (and your wife) need you to take your responsibility to care for, love, and provide for them. And that you children will have the opportunity to heal the broken relationship with your fathers.
Many years ago I marched in the Memorial Day parade in my home town as a member of the high school band, along with veterans, Boy and Girl Scouts, and various other groups. We’d stop at the Susquehanna River to remember those who died at sea, with the casting of a floral wreath into the water and a twenty-one gun salute. Then we’d march to the cemetery, where we’d salute the war dead with taps, speeches, and a twenty-one gun salute. Today many activities fill a Memorial Day commemoration, some related to the purpose of Memorial Day and some not. I still like to attend the ceremonies to help me remember the sacrifice of so many so I can live in freedom.
Today, with the erosion of Constitutional freedoms, the loss of rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, and the balance of power among the branches of the Federal government askew, is a good time for remembrance. War is not glorious, but at times it becomes necessary. (Imagine where we’d be if Hitler had not been stopped.) The act of self-sacrifice on the part of the members of our military should be remembered. Memorial Day is to remember the dead, but I think there is plenty of room to thank the living who returned.
As a living American who reaps the benefits of their service and sacrifice, I want to be a faithful steward of the freedoms with which the United States has been blessed.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27 NKJ)
My husband sometimes uses an experience with sheep as an illustration for a sermon. He tells of the time when my father, who kept a small flock of sheep, demonstrated voice recognition on the part of sheep. Frank stood in full view of the sheep while my father hid from their view. My father called the sheep, but when they saw Frank, they ran to him because they recognized my father’s (their shepherd) voice.
I grew up with sheep, so I understand how easy it is for them to “go astray.” If for one moment they take their eyes off the shepherd and follow the wrong leader, they get lost or into a lot of trouble. Helpless in the face of enemies, whether human, animals, or disease, they need strong leadership to keep them in the right path.
As a Christian, I am one of the Lord Jesus’ sheep. Like a sheep, I am at times disobedient to His Word, or I stray after an imposter. Isaiah wrote, “All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned every one, to his own way….”
(Isaiah 53:6) Jesus knows me; it’s up to me to follow Him. Jesus paid the price for my going astray by His death on the cross. “And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” And because He had the victory over death by His resurrection, I have eternal life.
Who do you follow?
A year ago, my husband and I entered into a period of change in our lives, resulting in moving out of our home of more than fourteen years, the beginning of a new job search for Frank, packing up two-thirds of our possessions (and downsizing by throwing/giving away), storing that two-thirds, living in an apartment for six months, then moving again and starting afresh.
I’m not always crazy about changes, but I have a distinct dislike for packing up and moving. Change isn’t always easy, but moving is definitely “the pits.” (I guess being homeless would actually be “the pits.”) I like to put down roots. I like to feel I belong.
We have been in our new home for six months. And we have come nearly full circle. Frank and I both grew up in communities nearby, so we are becoming acquainted and reacquainted. Life is beginning to take on a comforting rhythm. I think I finally feel like I’m settling into a “new normal.” Then there is the question, “what is normal?”
Change is often difficult, but we have to be flexible enough to accept it when it comes. It is a fact of life.
From the White House, to school yards, to church lawns — it’s time for Egg Rolls and Egg Hunts. It’s Easter! Kids enjoy getting outdoors in the fresh spring air to play games and seek sweet surprises. As a child, I enjoyed coloring real hard boiled eggs for Easter, a tradition I carried on with my children. Today the eggs are often the plastic kind with candy or a small object inside. Eggs became a part of the celebration of Easter many years ago, a sign of new life.
There are many fun traditions connected with holiday celebrations, but too often these traditions mask the true meaning of the holiday. The story has been told of the little boy who brought a plastic egg to school for show-and tell. The other children didn’t understand what was so special about a plastic egg. “It’s empty!” they exclaimed. “Yes,” said the boy, “like the tomb after Jesus rose from the dead.”
Easter for the Christian is actually Resurrection Day, the day the angels announced to the surprised women at the tomb, “He is not here, for He is risen as He said.” Had He not died and shed His blood to pay for our sins and then come back to life, having victory over death, the apostle Paul tells us our faith would be worthless (see 1 Corinthians 15). So we can have fun and feasting as we remember what Christ has done for us. Celebrate the Resurrection and Eternal Life!
The icy lake lies deep and dark, a secret
mysterious prison. Descending fingers of ice from tree branches, forming lacy shadow-patterns on snow as the cold
winter sun breaks weakly through gray
clouds, point to the white-encrusted ,
landscape. Winter holds life encased
in its icy breath, the frigid air keeps
silent vigil over nature.
Frosty flakes burst from formless
clouds, gray darkness covers the lake,
the trees. Whistling north wind and creaking
complaint of the giant spruce wipe
away sun, lace, anticipation. Ruffed-feathered
birds and tail-curled squirrels wait out
the storm in sleepy quiet. Winter’s icy breath
being sovereign, the earth lies
cold, and dark, and waiting.
Jewel-sparkling snow in
sun-lighted morning, frost-painted
patterns on windowpanes, icicles
dripping from tree branches, cheery
“dee-dee” of the chickadee and harsh
call of the blue jay, tail-flit of
the saucy gray squirrel stealing seeds from
the bird feeder–hope is released from
icy encasement, life awakens
and breaks free!
A friend once asked, “Why can’t we do for others all year what we usually do for Christmas?” She was referring to the extra out-pouring of generosity so typical of this season.
I think we make an effort to do more for others at Christmas. In our culture, it’s an accepted practice. For us as followers of Christ, it gives us another opportunity to share the love of Christ as we celebrate His Incarnation, when He became a man so that He could provide forgiveness for our sins and give us eternal life.
We have many opportunities to help others all the time and not just at Christmas. Jesus’ example was to be a servant. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) God’s greatest gift to us is eternal life through Jesus Christ. We can never out-give our omnipotent God, but our giving to others, in word or deed or generous act, is a reflection of His giving.
Personally, I find nothing wrong with churches or individual Christians being extra-generous this time of year. But the challenge is to continue to give at every opportunity throughout the year, as God gives opportunity.
As you celebrate the birth of our Savior, may you have special joy in giving to and sharing with others. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15.