Monday, April 25, 2011

A Story of Miracles

Many years ago, I had a son – my only child. I loved and cared for him with all my heart as any parent would. I sat with him when he was sick, played with him when he was bored, and cheered him on when he was up at bat. I fed him, bathed him, read stories to him, helped him pick up his toys and disciplined him when needed.

One evening, shortly after his twelfth birthday, my son was riding his bike home for dinner. Being a bit of a daredevil, like his father, he pedaled hard down the hill of his friend’s back yard and picking up speed, jumped, pulling the bike up into the air, to soar over the three-foot tall weeds by the side of the road. He cleared the weeds and flew right into the path of an oncoming SUV. After hitting the front of the car, bouncing up onto the hood, and then down to the ground, my son lay motionless in the middle of the road.

In hysterics, the woman driving the vehicle called 911 and then called the church she and her children were on their way to, asking them to pray for my son. He hadn’t secured his helmet and even though the vehicle was going only twenty-six miles per hour when they collided, the impact was enough to induce instant coma. He was taken by helicopter to Children’s Hospital but the head trauma was too great and my little boy was pronounced brain-dead the following day.

The woman driving the car and her church prayed diligently for me as I began the unthinkable task of learning to live life without my son. In fact, many people told me that they were praying for me, but being an atheist, I really didn’t understand what prayer could do.

A year later, Jesus reached into my brokenness and my grief. Through the reading of his Word, he opened my mind and my heart to his love and grace and I received him as my Lord and Savior. A few months later, the Spirit led me to attend a local church and then to become a member of that church. The day I became a member, a woman approached me and introduced herself as Jane (not her real name) and told me that she was the one driving the SUV that tragic day. As I stood there shaking her hand and hearing her words, I was filled with an overwhelming love and compassion for her. I smiled and couldn’t help but hug her. God had led me to the very church that had prayed for me - the very church where Jane and her children were traveling to on that fateful day.

I’ve endured many abuses and challenges in my life and little by little, God has peeled back the layers of my pain and healed all the deep wounds of my past. This was not a quick or easy process. I spent eight years working with a Christian counselor, building a support network of friends, and learning how to live a full and grace-filled life. I mourned the death of my son for twelve years and forty-four days – one day for each day of his life. In 2010, I reached the last milestone of my grief – the day my sweet child was now dead longer than he’d been alive. Through the long arduous process of healing, God created in me a loving heart sensitive to those who are grieving and he has provided opportunities for me to reach out to those who mourning – to journey with them through their grief as a friend and guide.

Over the past year, I’ve had the great privilege of working together with Jane in ministry. And just recently, on the thirteenth anniversary of the my son’s death, we stood side-by-side, laughing and working together at a ministry function. When the work was done, we parted with a hug.

I share this story because it’s the story God has given me to tell. The Lord has pulled me out of complete despair and brokenness, renewed me with grace and blessing, healed me completely, and reconciled two people whom the world would never believe could ever be reconciled. From beginning to end, my story is one of the miracle and grace of a great and merciful God – of a loving and powerful God who cares for each one of us so much that he sent his Son to save us and gave his Spirit to guide and heal us so that we may come to know him personally and love him deeply.

About the pictures:
Deer Lake Park, PA (October 2009)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Lenten Journey - A Modern-Day Psalm

He Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!

What a wonderful journey this has been. I hope it has been as much of a blessing for you to read this modern-day psalm as it was for me to write. The entire poem is posted below followed by a video of one of my new favorite songs - "O Glorious Day" by Casting Crowns. On this Easter morning - what could be more appropriate than a beautiful song that speaks of Jesus death and resurrection and of his eventual return. 

Tomorrow we will go back the usual "Parable of My Life" devotionals where I share the lessons that God brings out of the ordinary moments of my week. May God bless you in abundance this Easter Day!


(ASH WEDNESDAY)
Against Almighty God alone I have sinned.
Heap ashes upon my wretched head
and cover my shame with sackcloth
for I come to You O Lord on my knees.
I hide my face from Your holiness.
I am a sinner.
Oh, Father – forgive.
Death is my due.
Forever apart from Your glory.
In anguish my heart cries out to You.

(FIRST SUNDAY DURING LENT)
Rejoice! Praise the God of heaven and rejoice
for the Lord has heard my cry.
He has reached out to me in His love
with grace and blessings.
He has called me His own!

(CONFESSION)
Sin permeates my flesh, Oh Lord.
I have sought my own pleasure,
my own pride, and my own desires.
Instead of seeking Your face, Your will –
I closed my fist around all I had.
I scorned and mocked You when I should have served You.
I turned my back to You when I should have loved You.
The sin in my heart disdained Your holiness
and I hid from the light of Your glory.

(SECOND SUNDAY DURING LENT)
Rejoice! Praise the God of heaven and rejoice
for the Lord has heard my confession.
He has reached out to me in His love
with grace and blessings.
He has called me His own!

(FORGIVENESS)
Lord Jesus, I come to You broken and penitent.
Forgive me, Oh Lord – forgive.
Take my sins,
my awful horrendous sins,
and remember them no more.
Strip the guilt and shame from my soul, O God
and grow in me a new heart.
One filled with love and devotion for You.

(THIRD SUNDAY DURING LENT)
Rejoice! Praise the God of heaven and rejoice
for the Lord has forgiven my sins.
He has reached out to me in His love
with grace and blessings.
He has called me His own!

(REDEMPTION)
Savior – Redeem me.
Redeem my life and my soul.
Only Your sinless life
and sacrificial death on the cross
will satisfy the death sentence that sin demands.
Only Your righteousness for my ungodliness
will bring me into the Father’s presence
with praises on my lips and joy in my heart
rather than tears of fright and fear of punishment.

(FOURTH SUNDAY DURING LENT)
Rejoice! Praise the God of heaven and rejoice
for the Lord has redeemed my soul.
He has reached out to me in His love
with grace and blessings.
He has called me His own!

(FAITHFULNESS)
Teach me, Oh Lord.
Show me the way to honor You.
I seek only that Your desires be mine
that Your sacrifice and grace be honored
in my words
and in the proceedings of each day.
Command me Lord God and I will obey
not for fear or for profit
but in the deepest love and with tremendous gratitude.
Lead me Lord and I will follow –
Follow You through the end of days
for You are worthy.

(FIFTH SUNDAY DURING LENT)
Rejoice! Praise the God of heaven and rejoice
for the Lord has created in me a faithful heart.
He has reached out to me in His love
with grace and blessings.
He has called me His own!

(DISCIPLESHIP)
Lord, help me to see the world through Your eyes
to give comfort to those broken and in pain
Enable me to be Your hands and feet,
to feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned,
give water to those who thirst, shelter to the homeless,
clothes and shoes to those in need.
Empower me to reach out Lord God
to my enemies in Your love and mercy
and to forgive those who hurt me.
Holy Spirit, I pray You would preach the Gospel
in my words and deeds each day
and may God be glorified in the offerings of my heart.

(PALM SUNDAY)
Rejoice! Praise the God of heaven and rejoice
for the Lord has made me His disciple.
Hosanna to the King of Glory
for He has reached out to me in His love
with grace and blessings.
He has called me His own!

(EASTER WEEK)
I’ve shouted, “Hosanna to the King” and cheered.
Yet how quickly I forget the hope You bring
when I want my desires, my own road
when Your will and Your way I don’t understand.
I call You Teacher, Friend and Lord
As we gather at the table,
break the bread and drink the wine.
Yet abandon You for sleep and run away in fear
when the time of trial arrives.
For my guilt You are dishonored, Your name cursed
at the whims of evil men.
In despair I see You hanging on a tree for the sum of my sins.
And then it is done.
All that is left are tears.

(EASTER SUNDAY)
Rejoice! Praise the God of heaven and rejoice
for the Lord has Risen from the grave.
He has heard my cry and my confession,
forgiven and redeemed my sinful soul,
and formed in me a faithful heart.
He has summoned me to follow Him.
He has reached out to me in His love
with grace and blessings.
He has called me His own!
Alleluia! Praise the Father! Praise the Spirit!
Praise the Son! Alleluia and Amen!





Monday, April 18, 2011

A Lenten Journey - Easter Week

The poem "A Lenten Journey - A Modern-Day Psalm" has been divided into weekly devotions consisting of a short Lenten meditation followed by a Celebratory Praise. Take some time during the week to reflect on the Lenten meditation—see if you can find some part of yourself in the words and then have a heart to heart conversation with God about it. Then on Sunday, take some time to celebrate the love and grace God has lavished on you. (The poem in its entirety will be posted on Easter Sunday.)


(EASTER WEEK)
I’ve shouted, “Hosanna to the King” and cheered.
Yet how quickly I forget the hope You bring
when I want my desires, my own road
when Your will and Your way I don’t understand.
I call You Teacher, Friend and Lord
As we gather at the table,
break the bread and drink the wine.
Yet abandon You for sleep and run away in fear
when the time of trial arrives.
For my guilt You are dishonored, Your name cursed
at the whims of evil men.
In despair I see You hanging on a tree for the sum of my sins.
And then it is done.
All that is left are tears.

(EASTER SUNDAY)
Rejoice! Praise the God of heaven and rejoice
for the Lord has Risen from the grave.
He has heard my cry and my confession,
forgiven and redeemed my sinful soul,
and formed in me a faithful heart.
He has summoned me to follow Him.
He has reached out to me in His love
with grace and blessings.
He has called me His own!
Alleluia! Praise the Father! Praise the Spirit!
Praise the Son! Alleluia and Amen!


About the picture:
Blackwater Falls State Park (May 2010)

Monday, April 11, 2011

A Lenten Journey - Discipleship

The poem "A Lenten Journey - A Modern-Day Psalm" has been divided into weekly devotions consisting of a short Lenten meditation followed by a Celebratory Praise. Take some time during the week to reflect on the Lenten meditation—see if you can find some part of yourself in the words and then have a heart to heart conversation with God about it. Then on Sunday, take some time to celebrate the love and grace God has lavished on you. (The poem in its entirety will be posted on Easter Sunday.)

(DISCIPLESHIP)
Lord, help me to see the world through Your eyes
to give comfort to those broken and in pain
Enable me to be Your hands and feet,
to feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned,
give water to those who thirst, shelter to the homeless,
clothes and shoes to those in need.
Empower me to reach out Lord God
to my enemies in Your love and mercy
and to forgive those who hurt me.
Holy Spirit, I pray You would preach the Gospel
in my words and deeds each day
and may God be glorified in the offerings of my heart.

(PALM SUNDAY)
Rejoice! Praise the God of heaven and rejoice
for the Lord has made me His disciple.
Hosanna to the King of Glory
for He has reached out to me in His love
with grace and blessings.
He has called me His own!


About the picture:
North Park, PA (July 2004)

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Lenten Journey - Faithfulness

The poem "A Lenten Journey - A Modern-Day Psalm" has been divided into weekly devotions consisting of a short Lenten meditation followed by a Celebratory Praise. Take some time during the week to reflect on the Lenten meditation—see if you can find some part of yourself in the words and then have a heart to heart conversation with God about it. Then on Sunday, take some time to celebrate the love and grace God has lavished on you. (The poem in its entirety will be posted on Easter Sunday.)


(FAITHFULNESS)
Teach me, Oh Lord.
Show me the way to honor You.
I seek only that Your desires be mine
that Your sacrifice and grace be honored
in my words
and in the proceedings of each day.
Command me Lord God and I will obey
not for fear or for profit
but in the deepest love and with tremendous gratitude.
Lead me Lord and I will follow –
Follow You through the end of days
for You are worthy.

(FIFTH SUNDAY DURING LENT)
Rejoice! Praise the God of heaven and rejoice
for the Lord has created in me a faithful heart.
He has reached out to me in His love
with grace and blessings.
He has called me His own!


About the picture:
North Park, PA (August 2009)