(un)Packing for the Journey: The Past

This week’s reflection …

I’ve known Tommy my whole life. In all that time, he never got along with his father. Oh, I’m sure Mr. Poole was a nice enough guy, but fathers and sons don’t always see eye to eye. And when a son starts to tally up his father’s sins, that list can become very long, very quickly. For Tommy, it was all about the kind of person his father was: he was too rigid, too judgmental; he didn’t keep his promises; he was prone to a sudden, sometimes violent, anger.

So how do you not become your father?

Tommy thought the key was education. Mr. Poole was a window and siding salesman; he had never gone to college, and never intended to. But Tommy did. He worked hard for scholarships and worked hard for his degrees, eventually becoming an electrical engineer and landing a well-paying job.

Years later, Tommy called me to tell me his wife and daughter were leaving him. When I asked him why, it was like hearing something echo through the years. “She said I was always judging her. That I never keep my word. And that she thinks I have anger issues, as well.” I didn’t know what to say — but Tommy said it for me. “Have I really become my father?”

It took time and counseling — and a lot of faith — but Tommy learned the more important ways to not be like his father. He is a happier person for it, and his family is together again.

Jesus told the blind man we are not defined by the sins of our past. Where we come from has nothing to do with where Christ can lead us. But if we want to walk his path, we have to be ready to let go of the past.

Watchword for the Fourth Sunday in LentSurely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long — Psalm 23:6. God of the universe, there is far more of You that has yet to be seen by us. Increase our faith so that the unknown does not frighten us but instead causes us to marvel at your grandeur. Amen.

Reflections of a Moravian on John 9:1–41 (Blind Man)

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. — John F. Kennedy

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Bow Our Heads …

As we build this community prayer platform, we ask the Lord to listen to our petitions with full confidence they not only are heard but acted upon by God according to His holy will. These requests are on my prayer list and I hope you consider putting them on yours as you place your petitions before the Lord Sunday.

Let’s remember to approach the throne room and respond with faith and not fear, knowing the promises of God and His mighty hand will hold us through any situation! Sometimes, all it takes is just one prayer to change everything. Something extraordinary happens when two or more agree together in prayer.

What is one of the most important things we should do as Christians? Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints (Ephesians 6:18).

Thoughts and prayers to all worldwide suffering from the consequences of conavirus flu – and all other strains.

Andrew continues to struggle. He is having a tough time breathing and has lost his voice.  Tough times for a tough guy. Prayers – and a sense of humor – are keeping him afloat.

David and his family need prayer. His mother reports he has been intubated and is on a ventilator now.

Mark is in critical condition after contracting pneumonia from a traumatic rib fracture after he fell while running. His condition has deteriorated since then. Mark’s family and staff appreciate your thoughts and prayers during this very difficult time.

Oran was born three weeks early with Down syndrome and heart defect. Open heart surgery was done this morning. Can we get some prayers for this innocent little angel.

Please say a prayer for Violet. A week ago, Violet was admitted to the hospital. In the very stressful and frightening days since, Violet has fought against what has been diagnosed as severe pneumonia. She tested negative for COVID-19, but remains severely ill.

Jerry’s right hand not doing well and is afraid losing his hand.

Scarlett isn’t doing good this week, her weight is down and she has a fever. Her blood and platelets are all low and she is having to stay in the hospital.

Madi, 16, has relapsed. She was told by her team today she will die, so now she knows, maybe two months.

Jules is battling cancer again. She had beaten it but it is back and this time she has no insurance.

Dixie is six years old and on life support for heart failure.

Angie underwent surgery again today to replace the part of her skull they removed back in January. Please pray for her safety and that she will heal quickly.

There were a host of unspoken prayer requests and we heard of a number of deaths this week. Prayers for their families as they go through this earthly trial. We grieve … heaven rejoices.

We come to You, Lord, because prayer is the least yet the greatest thing we can do for each other. When two or more are gathered in Your name, we confidently know You are with us. What better company can we have? You reign and we trust You! We may be broken and battered but know You heal and quiet the soul. You are the source for all that happens in our lives. We thank You for the progress being made. We thank You for the many blessings we have received this week — some we unfortunately didn’t notice. Nonetheless, those blessings are ever-present in our lives. We thank You for healing. We thank You for slowing us down. We thank You for providing us our daily needs — no more and no less. We thank You for being with us, listening to us, walking with us on this journey. We thank You for the support of our family and friends … for seeing the extraordinary in the ordinary — sunrises, sunsets, flowers, kids laughing, adventures, good news amid the bad news. We know we can come to You with our concerns and they will be heard. Through Christ all things are possible. We lift up those family members and friends who are battling various physical, emotional, financial, career or spiritual issues and ask not for Your guidance and healing (although that would be welcomed) but to keep reminding us we are not alone in our battles. Specifically we lift up Andrew, David, Mark, Oran, Violet, Jerry, Scarlett, Madi, Jules, Dixie, Angie, and all those needing Your healing and guiding touch. We pray for the families of all those You have called home. We grieve … You celebrate. We pray for obedience to Your Will so Your “Son” Light shines through us through the power of the Spirit. And we come to You through the confidence of the words taught by Your Son Jesus. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Keep your joys and concerns coming. They have been and will be included during my prayer time and I trust they will be on your lips as well as you approach the altar. All it takes is a couple of keystrokes under the “Contact Me” button on the top bar {or to the right if you’re not a follower yet}. I hope it becomes your best friend as you navigate around the site so we can all be viable prayer warriors. You can also comment or reach me at wisdomfromafather@gmail.com.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Pray without ceasing — Thessalonians 5:17

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Five Minute Friday — Tomorrow

These are strange times we’re living through. The uncertainties of the covid-19 virus, the effects on everyday life from the pandemic, even the craziness of panic purchases have left us virtually sheltering in place, with minimal contact with a much compressed world outside. Thank God, we can write down our thoughts as we go through these crazy days.

Our Five Minute Friday community remains a beacon for support and prayer. Many of last night’s posts shared suggestions about what to do with the kids, suddenly home instead of in school. There was also an open ended invitation for support from community members … because that’s what we do best.

Our fearless moderator Kate Motaung  supplies us with the one word prompt and off we go! Our weekly exercise is designed for five minutes of uninterrupted patter of the fingers representing the thoughts of the heart, soul and mind.When done, we link up in the Community section at fiveminutefriday.com, then settle in to gently critique and soak in our neighbors’ work. I can’t wait to find new friends each week!

I invite you to join us in reading the wide interpretations and multi-genre presentations of the prompt. Or, better yet, try your hand! It’s five minutes (more or less) with few rules and no obligations. It’s fun (albeit sometimes challenging). It’s networking at its finest. We love meeting new friends!

To help inspire you to join our group, I’ve included testimonials from writers as outlined in Five Minute Friday: A Collection of Stories Written in Five Minutes Flat, compiled by Susan Shipe. This week, I’ll share some words from Katie’s heart.

“FMF is a hospitable, fun and caring group of writers. Not only have I been challenged to write off the cuff, but I’ve been inspired by the words of others and encouraged by the friendships that have been forged through this community.”

Amen!

This week’s prompt is TOMORROW. The timer has been set, so it’s time to GO…

When my middle son was little, he would go around singing the opening stanza from Tomorrow from the musical Annie — “The sun’ll come out … Tomorrow … Bet your bottom dollar … That tomorrow … There’ll be sun!” I’m not sure why. I don’t even know if he identified with Daddy Warbucks or Rooster Hannigan or one of the supporting waif characters. The first few times it was cute. After about the next 100, it was less than amusing … but it remains a memory for me.

I thought about that song and the phrase I’ve been known to use on occasion — “The sun’ll come out … Tomorrow … “even before the current virtual lockdown. I’ve really thought about it since the prompt was given last night.

Truth is, we don’t know if the sun will shine tomorrow. It might rain or snow, after all it is March. All we have is today’s gift and yesterday’s memories. Tomorrow? That’s the future and well out of our mortal hands. We have to wait for the present, unwrap the present, enjoy the present when it is given to us.

Tomorrow may be bright and sunny. It may be stormy and confusing … STOP

but it will come. Even when our today is the last gift, there will be a tomorrow. It’s up to us to choose whether that eternal tomorrow is in the bright and sunny presence of the Lord or in the turmoil, pain and separation in the other not so good place.

But, it is a choice we have to make today … before tomorrow.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: If you are going to doubt something, doubt your limitations.

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Time Out …

We are — at least in the USA — in a virtual time out. Almost every facet of our lives have changed in less than a week. In addition to the heath risks {which is not be be minimized}, the economic and social impact of the virus is significant. Closings of schools and offices, suspending or cancelling sporting events, and limiting mass gatherings are bummers. Trying to figure out what to do for day care for those parents where schools are closed by mandate will be harrowing. Tele-working will present challenges. Restaurants and small businesses will be impacted beyond belief. Travel plans and spring breaks are in turmoil.

My travel plans have been altered. While I am in Ohio today, the plan was to migrate back east to New York {upstate} then Massachusetts to get closer to Maine for a follow-up doctor’s appointment April 1. Instead, I will hunker down in Kentucky. I do not know if my doctor will be seeing routine patients. We’re in a holding pattern as the ramifications of the health emergency still sift down.

Time will tell whether we over or under reacted to the crisis. After all, there are an estimated  billion seasonal flu cases worldwide; 9.3 to 45 million cases in the U.S. per year. As of today — less than six months since the first confirmed covid-19 case — there are approximately 222,643 cases worldwide and 9,415 cases of covid-19 in the U.S.  While the mortality rate for the seasonal flu is an astounding 291,000 to 646,000 deaths worldwide and 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. per year, approximately 9,115 covid-19 deaths have been reported worldwide; 150 in the U.S., as of today.

However, there are two big differences which have caused alarm. First of all, we have a history with seasonal flu resulting in vaccines and/or mitigating treatment. We have no real experience with covid-19. We are still learning about it’s pathology and transmission. Second, we have discovered the incubation period for covid-19 is much longer than the seasonal flu. The seasonal flu is generally transmitted within one to three days of symptoms, but covid-19 incubates for up to 14 days — with or without symptoms — during which time it can be transmitted to others

You can find up-to-date information on covid-19 at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

And so, we are on our mandated time out. All the disruption will give all of us a chance to do less over the next few weeks. Our choices will be limited, which means we should have more time to spend with our families … if we take advantage of it. It could be a time to reconnect with your spouse or kids. It could be an opportunity to catch up on the to do list, perhaps even including the whole family to clean up, spruce up or catch up. It could also be a time to some extra reading or extra study or extra prayer time — again as a family?

As we go a little stir crazy in our own little cocoons, one diversion might be to read a good book or two or a dozen. Chances are it will have to be one collecting dust on your bookshelf or through electronic services like e-books or audiobooks. Amazon has announced suspension of deliveries of non-essential products.

There are thousands of titles available in every imaginable genre, from arts & photography to travel … from biographies & memoirs to teen & young adult … from children’s books to sports & outdoors … from Christian to self-help … from history to romance … from literature & fiction to mystery, thriller & suspense. {Hint: I have three titles available on Kindle in case you’re interested in some  uplifting reading. Sorry for the self-plug.}

How are you surviving our time out? Any innovative approaches you can share? Any tips for others on how to keep the family engaged or keeping up with schoolwork?

My thoughts and prayers go out to all impacted by the pandemic, which probably will be every one of us. I’m concerned … but I’m not worried. Because I also know I am in Good Hands, the Architect who knows the grand plan.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: When you don’t understand it, when you can’t figure it out, when you don’t know what you are going to do, just remember — God has a plan. So don’t worry.

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Midweek Mirth

One of the misconceptions about being a Christian is non-Christians think we don’t know how to have fun or have a sense of humor. Trust me, if the Big Guy can have a sense of humor when it comes to dealing with us mere mortals, so can we.

The difference for Christians is we don’t have to debase ourselves or others to generate a smile. Laughter at life or ourselves is a gift from God.

It’s time for some Midweek Mirth so let’s smile a little!

Finally

After years of scrimping and saving, a husband told his wife the good news: “Honey, we’ve finally saved enough money to buy what we started saving for way back in 2000.”

“You mean a brand-new Mercedes?” she asked eagerly.

“No,” he replies, “a 2000 Mercedes.”

And now for the bonus …

Listening

Suzie was in kindergarten. There was a boy in her class who wasn’t listening to the teacher. The teacher said to him, “Since you don’t want to listen, you sit at that table by yourself.”

After a few minutes, Suzie raised her hand and said, “I don’t want to listen either. Can I sit with him?”

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: A good laugh is sunshine in the house. — William Thackeray

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… A Time to Read

People in the United States — and elsewhere around the world — are experiencing some strange times. “Normal” does not exist because of a germ. It has virtually shut us down … places of worship, schools, libraries, restaurants. Many of us are being encouraged to shelter in place, stay away from crowds, minimize contact outside the home. A few have been self-quarantined as a transmission mitigation effort, while others who have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus strain have been quarantined, mild cases at home and more severe in isolation wings at hospitals and health care facilities.

The actions are designed to slow transmission of the disease or, as the experts say, “flatten the curve”. There have been some driven by fear who have overreacted, leading to irrational panic. They see some type of apocalypse ahead. They could be right, but … they may be wrong. These precautions may just be a temporary bump on the road of life … perhaps a speed bump to intentionally slow us down.

All the disruption will give all of us a chance to do less over the next few weeks. Our choices will be limited, which means we should have more time to spend with our families … if we take advantage of it. It could be a time to reconnect with your spouse or kids. It could be an opportunity to catch up on the to do list, perhaps even including the whole family to clean up, spruce up or catch up. It could also be a time to some extra reading or extra study or extra prayer time — again as a family?

As we go a little stir crazy in our own little cocoons, one diversion might be to read a good book or two or a dozen. Chances are it will have to be one collecting dust on your bookshelf or through electronic services like e-books or audiobooks. Amazon has announced suspension of deliveries of non-essential products.

There are thousands of titles available in every imaginable genre, from arts & photography to travel … from biographies & memoirs to teen & young adult … from children’s books to sports & outdoors … from Christian to self-help … from history to romance … from literature & fiction to mystery, thriller & suspense.

I have a few suggestions {pardon the self-plug} if you’re looking for some uplifting reading. May I suggest one of my books?

Heaven Shining Through is my first novella released just about two years ago. It currently has a 4.2 rating Throughout her life, Samantha had a rocky relationship with her mother – and now her mother is all she has left. Through a nostalgic look back, Samantha recognizes the presence of God in an ordinary life. She learns more about herself as a wife and mother who has had her share of sorrow and blessings. As her faith increases, she is able to see her mother through new eyes, leading to reconciliation …and is reminded of that every time she sees Heaven Shining Through.

My Name Is Sam … and Heaven Is Still Shining Through is an expansion of Heaven Shining Through with further character and story development. It also continues Sam’s story and has an Amazon rating of 4.6.

Sit down with a cup of coffee or a nice wine and visit with Sam as she shares a lifetime of memories in this new Christian-themed fictional memoir. It introduces Sam (Samantha), her family and friends in more detail than the original, and picks up where the novella left off. I hope readers get to know Sam as a friend, a life long friend. Share her life … complete with some drama, some humor, some heart tugs. Just a free-willed suburban Jersey girl trying to figure out this journey called life with the presence of God in an ordinary life as the underlying theme.

In between the two fictional novels, I published Wisdom From a Father … one dad’s thoughts on life. This non-fiction collection of short stories, taken from my blog of the same name, has an Amazon rating of 4.4.

I’m just that ordinary Joe walking on the path of life … and sharing it with you. There are joys. There are tribulations. There are reflections. There is every day life. In each essay I try to convey a recognition of a greater Power who colors my perspective. My comments are always filtered through the lens of my Judeo-Christian values and largely based on 40 years of marriage raising five children.

All three are available in print or Kindle, and the last two through KOLL and KU.

My thoughts and prayers go out to all impacted by the pandemic, which probably will be every one of us. I’m concerned … but I’m not worried. Because I also know I am in Good Hands, the Architect who knows the grand plan.

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Let God weave His tapestry however He wants on His schedule.

 

 

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The Danger Within Us

French author Victor Hugo has a short story titled, 93. In the midst of this tale, a ship at sea is caught in a terrific storm. Buffeted by the waves, the boat rocks to and fro, when suddenly the crew hears an awesome crashing sound below deck. They know what it is. A cannon they are carrying has broken loose and is smashing into the ship’s sides with every list of the ship. Two brave sailors, at the risk of their lives, manage to go below and fasten it again, for they know that the heavy cannon on the inside of their ship is more dangerous to them than the storm on the outside.

So it is with people. Problems within are often much more destructive to us than the problems without.

Today, God’s word would take us “below decks” to look inside ourselves concerning the whole matter of forgiveness.

This reflection is from Stephen M. Crotts/George L. Murphy, Sermons For Sundays: After Pentecost (Middle Third): The Incomparable Christ, CSS Publishing Company. Cited on www.eSermons.com

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Do something today that will make you a better person tomorrow.

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