Archive for November, 2011

In Memory

I’ve had this window open all day, trying to find the right words to describe a life that I held so dear.  This morning I received a call informing me that a life on this earth had come to an end, that the angels were rejoicing in heaven. 

For several weeks we have been watching and waiting as my Great Aunt Arline has fought against a cancer that was taking her life.  She refused therapy and the past several days have been rough as she has slowly slipped away from this life. 

In her last days, my mother was able to stand beside her, sharing the love from the rest of the family.  She helped to provide comfort for Aunt Arline in her last days with us, as well as providing the rest of us with the comfort of knowing that the ones we love were in good hands. 

In her final days, Aunt Arline shared with my mom that the angels were more beautiful than she imagined.  She was ready to return into the hands of God, to stand side by  side with my grandmother in the presence of God. 

This morning, she passed from this world to continue her journey with God.  Her faith gave her the strength to persevere through this life and will continue to give her strength in the next. 

Although she is no longer physically with us, she will remain with us in our hearts and in who we are, for she has impacted our lives with her love and compassion.  May she always watch over us. 

In memory of Aunt Arline, you will forever be remembered. 

God Bless and PEACE

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Giving Thanks

As the holiday season comes upon us, we often find ourselves looking back throughout the year in wonder and awe, asking ourselves:  How did we survive this crazy journey called life?  With Thanksgiving here, we spend time with family, sharing what we are thankful for.  There are so many things we overlook throughout our daily lives, it is good to step back and reflect on the blessings that God has poured out onto us. 

A year ago, I was finishing up my first round Spike with AmeriCorps*NCCC down in Houston, TX.  I met a number of amazing individuals, discovered friendships beneath hard work and proximity, and had an experience of a lifetime.  I am grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside three separate teams and hundreds of individuals.  I give thanks to God because he gave me the strength so serve in Houston, TX, Tulsa, OK, Crown King, AZ, Williamsburg, MO, St. Louis and Joplin, MO.  These experiences helped to shape me into the man who I have become. 

I find myself thankful for the hard times of disaster response, the experiences of St. Louis and Joplin.  Looking back at the volunteers that I had the priveledge of leading and learning from, I am thankful for their individual stories of survival, of hope, of suffering, of perseverance.  They showed me what strenght really was. 

I am thankful for the leaders that stepped up to lead, my TLs, teammates and advisors that watched over us.  Although we had our differences, I learned from each one as they did their best to deal with the situation that they found themselves in.  For those that are currently leading, you are something amazing, especially after you saw what your TLs went through. 

I am thankful because I have a job that I love and enjoy.  Working with wildfire is not something that many people would consider fun, so I am thankful that you run the opposite way as the flames run through knee high grasses, shrubs and timber. 

I am thankful for the beautiful daughter of God that I have the opportunity to share this journey with. 

I am thankful for my family who has stood beside me through the thick and the thin, the good and the bad times. 

I am thankful for the struggles, because God gave me the strength to get through. 

I am thankful for the paths that I have crossed, all the lives that I’ve been affected by and the opportunities to share the journey with others. 

I am thankful for each breath that I breath because I know that each one could be my last. 

I am thankful for so much, it cannot begin to be put into words.  For each moment.  Each opportunity.  Each glimpse of heaven. 

I am thankful for God who has given me this life, who leads my feet, and who gives me the strength to keep moving down this path of life.

As we celebrate Thanksgiving with turkey, ham and football, let us remember all that we are thankful for, both big and small. 

God Bless and PEACE

The Courage to be a Warrior

We are surrounded by warriors.  This past weekend, we celebrated Veterans Day and observed all those that served and still serve in our nations armed forces.  We all know of individuals serving in Afghanistan or Iraq.  I’m working on a military base, surrounded by these warriors.  We look up to them.  Respect them. 

Too many times, we look and realize that we are no longer standing side by side with these warriors.  We look and realize that we are no longer standing side by side with our own brothers and sister of faith. 

Just as the soldiers fight for our nation, wielding guns and bullets that kill, there are men of faith who fight with the sword and the light of faith that casts out the darkness. 

I was listening to the radio and I heard these words echo through my thoughts:

May the watchers become warriors
Let the men of God arise
 – Courageous, by Casting Crowns

The song goes on to say that it is time for the men of God to stop watching, but to take a stand and fight for our faith.  We cannot stand in the world and do nothing. 

It is time to gain the courage to live out the faith that we profess.  It is time to begin living out our faith.  It is time to find the courage that comes from God. 

The only way we’ll ever stand
Is on our knees with lifted hands

God Bless and PEACE

The Power of God

We put so much emphasis on the forces of darkness that occupy the spiritual realms.  They seep into the physical world and invade our thoughts.  We obsess over witch doctors and voodoo priests in Africa, paganism and atheists in our own back yards, wondering if they have more power than our faith in God. 

I find myself wondering why we are even asking.  When we rise up from underneath the waters of Baptism, we are reborn with the Spirit of God.  We are born again with the faith that comes out of the blood that Christ shed on the cross for each of us. 

Throughout the old testament, God’s power and wrath can be seen clearer than day.  Cities fall before His power, walls collapse, flames are called down from heaven, nations burn and the sun stands still in the sky.  A bear mauls a group of children and waters part before His chosen people. 

The ground shakes.  The sky goes dark.  The curtain is torn down the middle.  And the sins of man rests on the shoulders of one man killed for us all. 

And yet, we still wonder if there is something else we should be more concerned with. 

When we rise up and put on the armor of God, nothing can stand in our way.  There will be trials and conflicts, but God will lead our feet if we let Him.  If we open our eyes, we may see that He is still working in our world. 

Yes, there is power that opposes us.  There is power in what we call ‘witchcraft’ and magic.  It is the power of darkness that has entered the hearts of many.  We give power to these powers when we believe that they are greater than the light that is in each of us. 

In Uganda, we saw and felt the power of belief.  Many still believe in the old ways of traditional medicine and remedies.  Of prayers to ancestors and dark spirits of the land.  We saw how the poor would still go to the local witch doctor, because that is what their fathers did before them and their fathers before them.  They gave him power because they still believe. 

Darkness cannot exist in the light.  Within each of us, we hold the flames of the Spirit and carry God’s light out into the world with us.  We have the strength to stand and reveal what hides in the depths of our own fears because our faith in the cross. 

Demons fled before Jesus in fear.  His followers had the faith to drive them out as well.  So, where do we fall short? 

If we truly believe, we too can drive out the demons that haunt our dreams and ride our fears.  But when we take a stand, we become targets in the field of battle.  Are we willing to take that risk? 

Jesus died to set us free.  The liest we can do with this faith He has bestowed upon us is to take a stand.  To be a light within the darkness of this world. 

So, will we be warriors that God called us to be?  Or will we abandon our faith in the cross for something else lurking in the shadows? 

Just some thoughts…

God Bless and PEACE