Lights of Grace



What did you do today?

What will be my last earthly activity is just a stronger way of asking ourselves – what will we be remembered for after we die.

We know that the last thing we see or do is always what everyone remembers.

Like the police officer who rushed into an active shooting situation and, as a result, died while saving others. Yet…

Does anyone remember how he signed his children’s report card the night before – after having a big celebration for their achievements, even the C-level child?

How about the hot cup of coffee that he took to his wife in bed that morning before heading out to another day on the job?

Does anyone remember that he was a guest speaker that morning at an elementary school about being a police officer, while letting the children try on his hat and badge – careful to leave his gun in his patrol car?

Does anyone remember that he bought lunch for a homeless person a few hours before?

This is not about a particular police officer. It could be about all people and how we chose to go about the moments in our daily lives. And yes, all will remember the last moment that their life was touched – either good or bad – by each of us.

I want to share a harrowing season in my life that has actually made me listen to the voice of my heart. It was an experience that no person should have to go through. It was a result of trying to stand up for what is right – in the right way. But the injustice came from mankind and old ways of belief. It is ‘man’s inhumanity to man’ of deceit and cruelty and of using God’s name in vain that is not of God.  And for the first time, I scratch my head and wonder how I got to be this age without seeing that clearly.

I have been stalked for over a year in every sense of the legal definition. I was forced to get security cameras on my home, to tell people where I was going and when I would return, to leave the YMCA where I exercised, and to find a grocery store farther away.

The most difficult thing in this was that I was forced for safety reasons to leave my church.

You may ask, what? Why? Isn’t church supposed to be a place of safety and one to experience the peace of God? But, my stalker was there replacing my worship with sinister behavior and no one could help me. My last blog was “No means No” written to the stalker who reads my blog over and over (yes, I see it on my dashboard).

If you haven’t noticed, the church is rapidly becoming the nesting spot in the world’s spiritual warfare. Evil’s attitude of entitlement  is the core of this warfare because evil elevates itself  above others.

When this happens we must be on guard. How do we recognize and defeat it?

First, we begin, all of us including the pastor, by living in the mindset of Christ, with a servant mind guided by the Holy Spirit. Philippians 2:3-5 New International Version (NIV) is a reminder:

“3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, 4 not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. 5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus”.

We are about to enter the season of Advent, celebrated by Christians who spend time in spiritual preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ.  Jesus, born in a stall in a manager. Jesus who washed the feet of His disciples.  Jesus, the son of God who died for us.

This advent season reminds me that God sent His only begotten Son to earth that we might have eternal life through the forgiveness of our sins. It is so simple, we only have to ask. My thoughts and prayers as I light each candle will be to remind myself of this, while I also remind myself not to allow the evil of earthly things that try to poison my joy.

We should remember that God doesn’t always call the prepared. Instead, he prepares those who respond to his call. It is this call that brings us through and out of the dark into the light.

God called upon and sent a circle of people to surround me, a reminder that through them, He is with me. I pulled my hope and strength from their loving arms, their positive energy and the fact that like God, they see me with eyes that recognize my imperfections and protected me from this evil with their love anyway. This is how I came through the darkness.

I continue to hold tightly to my faith; regardless of the evil that often tries to destroy it. I will live it each moment of each day so that only my faith will be the lasting memory that I leave.

God’s got this.  Peace and love to all.

I can tell you what Christmas is all about.

Remember when we were kids and how exciting it was to go back to school and we’d make a list of all the great stuff Santa had brought us?  Barbie dolls, a red wagon, a BB gun, fruit, candy and a huge ham and cakes of all kinds for Christmas dinner.  Dad would say the blessing and carve the ham.

That is not what my childhood Christmas was all about.  Dad was away in the war and any extra money went to pay for the heat in the house and food like beans, potatoes, bread and milk, not toys.  It seemed like life sucked because I didn’t have all those things other kids had.  Dad eventually came home from the war and the warmth of his presence and his love was worth any sacrifice.

Remember how our mothers were the heart of Christmas, creating it’s meaning for all of us?  The shopping, the baking, the decorating, the wonderful secrets and always, always going to midnight communion which gave us the joyous peace that mothers know it will? But then mother died and Christmas became lonely and fake and life sucked.  At some point, I can’t tell you when or why, I began to do all of the same wonderful things with my children and we began to build on the foundation mother had provided, making it stronger with each new memory we created as a family.  Her legacy gives us joy and peace, keeping her close, and I believe – happy, always.

Then we grow up and realize that life can suck on any given day with or without notice. This hurts and with the pain, memories of what is good and right in our life are swept away by the uncertainty of just how much adversity one can withstand.

In the Charlie Brown Christmas Special where Charlie Brown asks about the meaning of Christmas and Linus, blanket in hand, explains, “And the angel said unto them, Fear not, for behold, I bring unto you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you this day is born in the City of Bethlehem, a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; you shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel, a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on Earth peace, good will toward men'”. (Luke 2:10).

Like Charlie Brown, we may shout, “What’s the big deal about Christmas?”

It seems to promise good things, but bad things still happen.

It appears that many of us may not be sure what Christmas is all about either.

But if we only seek the meaning, we discover it really is all around us.

Linus ends his explanation by simply saying, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”  If we all could have the faith of Linus, life would still sometimes suck, but we would gain some of that peace on earth and good will toward others as we realize that the good in our lives gets us through those bad times.

God gave us His son, Jesus who suffered and died for us of His own free will:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son… .” (John 3:16).

If we think about that, we can find hope in the will of  people everywhere, every day, who give their lives freely for others so that others might live. A friend of mine gave her husband her kidney so he might live, a sister gave her sister her bone marrow which put her cancer in remission, a young firefighter died of smoke inhalation but managed to rescue an 87 year old great grandmother, troops every day give their lives so we are safe.  The reality of Christmas is the understanding that God doesn’t prevent bad things from happening, but He does provide us with comfort and support as He guides us through the bad times, often using those around us to help us.

In the first days of my widowhood, Kathy, Tammie and Rosita called me every day, ignoring that I often didn’t answer the phone or return their calls.  Still their calls continued, every day, until I began to answer the phone and I began to call them back; God at work through people.

Christmas is about accepting that bad things are just going to happen, and having the faith that God is there every moment.  Anyone can be thankful when times are good, but maintaining our faith and belief in God through the bad times will give us strength to persevere and to eventually recognize and to be grateful for the goodness that still exists in our lives.

And that, my friends, is what Christmas is all about.

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