Lest We Forget

“So that your trust may be in the LORD, I teach you today, even you.” Proverbs 22:19

“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,”  1 Chronicles 16:12

It’s that time of year when we get to see the classic movie, The Ten Commandments (Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston duke it out for possession of the Israelites) AND re-enactments of The Passion of Christ in its various incarnations. Depending on your faith, this is the time to celebrate Passover or Easter Sunday (also known as Resurrection Day). You’ll be unable to avoid seeing mention of either this weekend – it’s because they are both linked together. Despite our familiarity with these holidays, I recently heard of a poll that indicated 42% of Americans do not know what this season is about. So here it is, in a nutshell:

Many Old Testament laws have been disregarded as obsolete and inspired by a God who wants to “get you” whenever you break one. But actually, a lot of these laws point to the remedy for our sin (and separation from God) – a reconciliation through his son, Jesus. This is most evident during the time of Passover, when God delivered his people from Egypt by many plagues – the last being the death of the firstborn of the Egyptians. Israel was spared from all of the plagues, including the last which required a blood sacrifice. The blood of a lamb was painted on the door posts so when the death angel came calling, he would “pass over”, sparing the occupants (Exodus 12:13). Similarly Christ, “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29) provides protection for us – when his blood was shed, it covered us. He is “our Passover Lamb” (1 Corinthians 5:7) so that the final death will “pass over” us, too.

Now, I love The Ten Commandments – it was made during a time “when movies were movies”. Although parts of it were biblically inaccurate, it told a great story and the special effects were grand and spectacular. I still can’t get enough of the parting of the Red Sea; it was the Avatar of its day. But my thoughts are elsewhere today; I’m drawn to the other side of that miracle. After the brouhaha died down. After Pharaoh, his charioteers and their horses were gone in one fell swoop. After the Israelites crossed the Red Sea, as if on dry land. After this great miracle of deliverance, what happened? The Israelites completely forgot who delivered them. God gave them water when they were thirsty in the desert and provided manna from heaven to make bread. He even gave them meat when they grumbled and complained. Yet they spurned Moses and rebelled against God many times. They didn’t trust that God wanted the best for them and that he would take care of them, despite how many times he had proven himself.

It can be said that you can only trust someone as well as you know them. As a mom, this is vividly illustrated each time my kids ask if they can go somewhere, with someone. My answer is always the same – it depends. How well do I know the person you’re going with? Do I know their family? How responsible is the parent with their own children? I could not, in good conscience, leave my children with a parent that did not exhibit the same care as I did with my own. Trust is not given lightly, it’s based on relationships. I know how well I can trust you in the future, based on what you’ve done in the past. When I have issues with trust, it’s usually because I remember a person’s track record all too well.

Still, I’ve been as guilty as the Israelites in the past; I had problems remembering what God has already done. This memory loss brought on anxiety. Over and over, I worried and fretted, questioned his ability to take care of me. Wondered if he cared. And the answer came back the same every time – he’s proven that I can trust him, so I will. He continues to show me. Sometimes, I get these huge, earth shattering, parting-of-the-Red-Sea revelations and at other times he reminds me in small ways. Like when my check engine light came on for a week and then, just as suddenly went off. That may seem like a small thing but for me, it was huge. It meant that I didn’t have to pay a repair bill or suffer the inconvenience of being without my car during a really hectic time in my life. It was just one less thing to deal with and I appreciated it. “Thank you, Lord,” I whispered, just as grateful for the small miracle as I am for the large.

Today is my daughter’s birthday. The big 18! She’s ecstatic, over the moon excited. Her dilemma today is the same as it is every birthday – will anyone care? Will anyone remember? Will anyone try to make her day special? My daughter expends a lot of energy towards making everyone else’s day special. She loves holidays and all the trappings. Birthdays, she celebrates with a special kind of fervor. But she is never satisfied. At the end of the day, she is usually unhappy because she didn’t get the kind of commitment and attention to her day that she’s given to others. She expects that when she puts out that kind of effort, she should get a return. And she’s right. She should and she will. But often she looks for the return to come from the folks she’s invested it in. It doesn’t always happen that way – sometimes a complete stranger can bless you. If you’re so busy looking at what you don’t have or what people didn’t do, you’ll miss it.

I passed on to her a lesson that I’ve learned over time. If you put out good things, they’ll come back to you. You can trust that. If you have good friends, trust them to be kind to you and treat you well on your special day (but also take some responsibility for making your own day great). And you can trust that God loves you and wants the best for you – he’s concerned about even the small things in your life. Like whether your birthday is great or if the check engine light is on in your car. Or when you don’t get the things or the recognition you feel you deserve. Or when you are mistreated and your character maligned. Remember, you can trust him to care. You can trust him to take care of you.

Be blessed,


Prayer and Praise

“The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
Exodus 15:2

“Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.” James 5:13

Surgery. The orthopedic doctor’s verdict sounded, to me, like a death sentence. My mom had fallen and broken her hip. Eighty three years old with health issues, how could she survive surgery? Moreover, surgery is something she always said she never wanted to have. But the forecast was bleak without it – unable to walk for the rest of her days, bedridden and all the complications that came along with being in such a state permanently. We had a horrible decision to make: Risk that she may not live through the surgery versus the risk that she wouldn’t have much of a life without it. I was heartbroken at the prospect of losing my mother. The very idea reduced me to a little girl.

Initially, my reaction was “She can’t survive surgery!” But I gradually made my peace with it as I saw it was inevitable. I began to feel good about the surgery and her chances to survive it. I felt like my mom would be alright. Until the time came to schedule the surgery and the reality of our predicament hit me. They left the choice to us. I lost it then – I was a mess. I’ve already made plans to go into a catatonic state when my mom leaves this world. Whenever that day comes, it will be too soon. I cried as we considered the alternative – could we live with that? Could she? Whatever the outcome, it was an ugly decision. My mom agreed to the surgery, taking the decision out of our hands.

Her hospital roommate, an angel, heard us and comforted us, saying, “Your mother will be fine! We’re tough!” God bless her for those words. Being a mom herself, and having survived brain surgery, she could appreciate both sides of the situation. She said, “Kiss your mama and pray for her. She gone be fine!” I was reminded of who my mom, the woman, once was. And if my mom said yes to the surgery, she must have determined that she would make it. She was fighting to live and if she wasn’t giving up, neither was I. So I told the nurse to schedule the surgery. On the way home, I thought about my last article (see Family Ties) and my words came back to encourage me – family is strength. For many years, my mother poured her prayers and strength into her family. Now it was time for us to return the favor.

So I called my brothers, told them the deal and asked for their prayers. Then I called my children and friends. And I posted my prayer request on FaceBook. Soon, I had a great number of people praying that my mom’s surgery would be a success. I was comforted and more confident that she would be ok. I woke up early the next morning, determined to be present for the surgery when another dilemma presented itself. Surgery had been rescheduled to the afternoon. By that time, I was supposed to be an hour away with my daughter at her college luncheon. I can tell you, being a mother, daughter, sister and gainfully employed makes for some hard decisions. It sucks. Sometimes my children win, at times my siblings, oftentimes, my job and more recently, my mom. I try to make the very best decision I can and hope for the best.

Reasoning that I had really done all that I could do for my mother – I left my sister to stay with her and went ahead with our plans to go to the luncheon. My kids sometimes give up a lot and can be very understanding. But I didn’t want to let my daughter down. So I left a message with the nurse, hoping that the doctor would reschedule (again) and enable me to be there. My mother was never far from my mind. I continued to pray for her as I drove. My son joined us at the luncheon and I invoked the power of family again; the three of us prayed for her as the time for her surgery neared. I trust my kids to pray with me more than anyone. They are wise and spiritual (for kids) and I know that they understand the power of family prayer. They “get it”, having reaped its benefits, many times over. This time, we sent prayers UP the pipeline.

We left the luncheon as soon as we were able, leaving early. I thought about my mom and the fact that I hadn’t received word from my sister yet. As we got into the car, my daughter asked if I had heard anything. “No,” I replied. She asked if I would call my sister and ask about the surgery. No, again. I told her, if she has anything bad to tell me, she won’t call me. And if she doesn’t call me, I don’t want to know right now. I’m too far away to do anything about it. I thought to myself – I would know if something bad happened. I would feel it, I was sure.

As we hit the toll road I was suddenly cheerful as a song by Fred Hammond came to me. I sang it over and over, louder and more cheerful. I got my daughter to join in. We bobbed our heads to the song and I knew, it wasn’t just a song – something had happened. We were praising God:

For the Lord is worthy to be praised
His hand of salvation redeems us this hour
To the Lord, beyond the balance of our days
Be glory and honor do-minion and power!

My cell phone rang. It was my sister. Telling me what my heart already knew. My mom was out of surgery. It was successful and she was recovering just fine. Yeah, God sometimes speaks to me through songs. I delivered the news to my daughter and she began to make the calls, passing the good news along. When she finished, she began to sing a song by J. Moss:

There’s a praise on the inside that I just can’t keep to myself
A holler, stirring up from the depths of my soul
So excuse me if I seem a little giddy and maybe even strange
But praise is the way I say thanks …

Be blessed,


P.S. “Glory to God” is by Fred Hammond.

Family Ties

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”  Matthew 18:19-20

So, Joseph was the favorite son of Jacob – born of the favorite wife, Rachel, who then died while giving birth to another son, Benjamin. Joseph’s favored status (and his dreams of being elevated above his family) caused such a strain with his brothers that they hated him – enough to wish him dead – enough to act upon it. Some of the older brothers took Joseph and roughed him up and threw him into a pit, later selling him as a slave. They ripped his famous coat of many colors, covered it with blood and led his father to believe he’d been killed by wild animals. Joseph wound up a slave in Egypt, then wrongfully imprisoned, before being released by Pharaoh. He found himself installed in the second highest office in the land because of his dream interpreting abilities. Turns out, those dreams of his came true. This begged the question: Was all this really brought on by sibling rivalry? Seriously? What was really going on?

As my friend always says, ask God a question and you’ll get an answer. It occurred to me recently, that this was not just about family squabbles but more about destroying this family and trying to prevent them from fulfilling their destiny. Jacob, or Israel, was the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham. God promised Abraham that he would be the father of many nations but he made a special covenant through the descendants of Isaac. From Isaac came twin sons, Esau and Jacob. The covenant carried on through Jacob’s descendants – twelve sons, destined to become 12 tribes and the nation of Israel. Israel the man became Israel the nation, through whom all the nations of the world would be blessed, for Jesus comes from the line of his son, Judah.

Incidentally, Judah is the brother who sold Joseph into slavery for twenty pieces of silver. Selling him was a compromise – Judah initially wanted to kill him. Wow. What better way to thwart Judah’s future than to have his brother’s life on his hands? Imagine the guilt of that. To Judah, this probably seemed like a good plan to derail Joseph’s future but thankfully, God had a better plan. God used this horrible betrayal to put Joseph IN power, in a land of plenty, during a time of famine, so that he could save his family. Think about it – no Joseph, no food, no future. God took these evil events and used them to fulfill his good purpose so Judah was forgiven for the part he played. Joseph was restored to his father and treated as the firstborn – he received a double portion among his brothers. His one tribe was reckoned as two, according to his sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. It was a good thing for all that Joseph’s brothers were not able to destroy him, his future and by extension, their own future with their actions.

I thought of the story of Joseph and his brothers and related it to my own family squabbles. Everyone has a story of sibling rivalry. But is it really about the squabble or about something bigger and deeper? What’s really going on? Is there a bigger picture to consider, a destiny for your family to fulfill? What if in tearing down your sibling, you are tearing down yourself or affecting your future? It came to me that there is so much power in unity. But therein lies the problem – unity is dangerous to evil. Divided we can do little but together we can accomplish so much. We can be a force to be reckoned with! But we allow petty squabbles to divide us and cause us to compete with one another to keep us from fulfilling our true purpose. Family is strength. Family is where our power lies. It’s our foundation for everything – for our churches, for our society. Families fall apart and so goes everything else. It’s all dependent on the family unit. So it follows, as we destroy our family relationships it will affect our future.

When my friends admit to me that they enjoy talking or visiting with siblings that they normally don’t get along with, they sound amazed AND a little bit guilty. A friend of mine recently confessed to me, she sounded surprised, that she really enjoyed some time she spent with a sibling. Like, she shouldn’t be having a good time with someone who has previously tormented her. But why be surprised? This is the natural order, not the rivalry – even though that’s been going on since Cain and Abel. That unity, God’s plan for the family, predates fratricide. More people, being of one mind, equals more power. That’s why group prayer is so powerful. Studies have been conducted to prove it. That’s why our family unit is so important and why it constantly comes under attack. That is why marriages are failing and families are estranged. It is so our power will be diluted and we will stand defenseless against the enemy.

My sister recently remarked to me, “Your first reaction is always negative.” My response: “What? ME? You!” And we went back and forth about it for a few minutes. I was a little steamed because I felt misjudged, especially since I try very hard to be encouraging. Apparently, she has been missing out on that most excellent part of moi. I let it go (this time!) because even though it’s untrue, it’s her perception and might as well be true. I didn’t realize that was how she saw me. But I’m not willing to let that divide us because it is so small. Our number has dwindled. We’ve lost a sister and a brother so losing each other has become a real possibility. And some of us are not as close, geographically and relationally. So what we have, we hold on to, we treasure. We stand by each other. My brother told me recently that he is praying for me – that was touching and powerful. I am grateful for his prayers. I need them. I feel stronger just knowing that. I think now, at this stage in our lives, we’re getting past the sibling rivalries. Like Joseph and his brothers, we’re realizing we need each other to stand and to be strong and to have a future.

Be blessed,


P.S. You can find the entire story of Joseph in the book of Genesis, chapters 37 thru 50.

Wrestling with God

I suppose you could say Jacob, the “supplanter,” was born wanting more. He had a twin; the two babies struggled in the womb for position. His brother, Esau, emerged first. Jacob followed, literally, “on his heels,” as he grasped Esau’s ankle. Jacob lost that first battle but set the stage for the early part of their lives: two brothers striving for supremacy. Because he was the eldest son, Esau pretty much had it made. He was entitled to the birthright (the greater share of the inheritance) and the blessing that came along with it. Esau was a hunter and he loved to be outdoors. Jacob was “a man who dwelt in tents,” or a homebody and favored by his mother. The two brothers could not be more different. Their mother, Rebekah, was cunning – I guess spending so much time with her was bound to rub off on Jacob.

There came a day when their father, Isaac, was old and thought he was on his death bed. Preparing to get his affairs in order, he called Esau to him so that he could impart the blessing he had reserved for his firstborn, and favorite, son. Now Esau, because he’d already sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a bowl of porridge, wanted to claim his blessing. Perhaps Esau “despised” his birthright in selling it so cheaply but I don’t think he ever really planned on parting with it. He probably figured he could just physically intimidate Jacob. But the blessing was his ace in the hole. It was important to him. If all else failed and he had to hold up to his bargain with Jacob, he would have that, at least. But Jacob didn’t even allow him that comfort. He and his mother devised a plan to trick Isaac into blessing Jacob, instead of Esau. And Isaac unknowingly blessed Jacob, giving him what belonged to the firstborn. Esau was furious and Rebekah was forced to send her beloved Jacob away to save him from his brother’s wrath. So Isaac sent Jacob on a mission – to go to his Uncle Laban’s house (the brother of Rebekah) and get a wife from among their kin.

There, he met his cousin, Rachel and immediately fell in love with her. He struck a bargain with the uncle. Because he came with nothing to offer, he would work for his bride for seven years. He loved her so much, the time flew by. But after the marriage he learned that he, for a change, had been tricked. Not the beautiful Rachel but her sister, Leah, had been wed to him. Laban agreed to give Rachel to Jacob if he worked another seven years. So Jacob worked hard for Laban for fourteen years, increasing his livestock. But Laban deceived Jacob repeatedly, changing his wages whenever it suited him. Jacob eventually tired of the games, gathered his family and possessions and set off for home.

By this time, Jacob‘s family had expanded to include the children of Leah, Rachel and their handmaidens. He was well on his way to becoming the father of twelve tribes and a great nation. Rachel, his favorite wife, had even managed to bear a child, Joseph – of The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat fame. As they traveled home, Jacob received word that his brother, Esau was coming to meet them. Jacob was struck with terror for his vulnerable young family. He feared his chickens were finally coming home to roost and Esau must be coming for payback. Jacob prepared to meet his brother with trepidation, softening him up by sending many gifts of livestock in advance. He hoped to save his family and his own life. Envisioning the worst case scenario, he divided his family into groups, so that some of them would have a chance at surviving an attack. He kept Rachel and Joseph, treasured above all, closest to him. Their lives were on the line.

That night, Jacob went to sleep. In the middle of the night, he was accosted by a strange man. Jacob grabbed him and wrestled with him. They grappled into the dawn, dislocating Jacob’s hip but still, he wouldn’t let go. Finally the angel, for that is who he’d wrestled with, said to him “Let me go, for the daybreak is coming.” Jacob knew that the angel must surely carry a message – it’s kind of what they do. So he replied, “Not until you bless me!” He meant, “What have you come to show me?” There had to be a reason for this display. The angel asked “What is your name?”

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:28)

Message delivered. His former name was an account of his life, to date – the deceit and trickery that he’d used to supplant his brother from his rightful position. The things he’d done which caused him to run away, rather than face his brother’s anger, he now had to deal with. During his absence, Jacob grew up and learned it wasn’t right to deceive people just to get what you wanted. Having been on the receiving end of such treachery, he was wiser. When the angel changed his name, he acknowledged that personal transformation. He let Jacob know, “That’s not who you are any longer!” Because God had blessed him so much, he no longer envied Esau or anyone their possessions. No longer would he use his inherited cunning and devious nature for ill gotten gain. He was not that person anymore, nor was he bound by his past. He came away from that experience stronger. His reality changed. He was able to face his brother, who was quite happy to see him, as it turned out.

Lately, when faced with situations, temptations or desires that used to defeat me, I get a mental picture of wrestling. I used to think it was me, grappling with that particular issue and trying to overcome it. “Wrestling with my demons,” so to speak. Now, I’ve come to another realization, for this story has stuck with me. God is giving me a message, too. “You can overcome what you’ve done, all of your past sins and defeats. And what you have become is not all there is – I want to bless you truly and give you a new name and a new future. You’re not wrestling with demons; you’re wrestling with me as I fight with you, for you. I want to improve you and to bless you beyond belief. I want to show you who you really are.” I realize now, the fight is to get me to let go of that person I was, so that he can show me who I truly am.

Be blessed,


The "Lost" Generation

“Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”
Psalm 71-:18

“So the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children.” Psalm 78:6

People in my family are all big talkers. When we get together, we can talk through the night and into the early hours of the morning. It’s what we do. So when my brother came to town to visit and stayed in my home, I knew we were overdue for one of our long sessions where we sit down and try to delve into deep matters and solve the problems of the world. This night, our focus was more on personal growth and resolving past issues in our own lives – how to move forward and stop repeating the mistakes of the past. He told me of a conversation he had with our late father, who was not a demonstrative man like most people of his generation. Physical displays of affection just didn’t happen. But he tried to show he cared for us in his own way – by talking. He never failed to have a sermon on his lips, a lesson or a story. He believed he should be prepared to “preach in season and out of season”. So he talked to my brother one day about how he had a personal responsibility to raise his sons or they would be lost. He told my brother, “We could lose an entire generation.” That conversation made an impression on my brother and he never forgot. My father put the load squarely upon his shoulders – he could not fail the next generation.

Fast forward 20 plus years – he claims he’s only 26 and still looks pretty young, I’ll give him that – my brother has lived his life and made some mistakes. He’s lived to regret some of the things he’s done. Surprisingly, he reached out to me and my kids. He came to stay with me for a while – in hindsight, I suspect he knew I needed help. He soon became a welcome presence at my house and filled the role of the loving, indulgent uncle. He remembered how our own uncles mentored him and followed their example. I credit him (and other men who stepped up to the plate) with mentoring my son and for earnestly trying to provide a good example for him in his father’s absence. The kids loved his visits and his presence helped to heal us. I wonder now if he felt he was doing this for his own family, by proxy. I guess in reaching out to help me and my family, he also healed himself of guilt over his past and saw where he could make changes.

I feel like my brother learned from his interaction with the kids. He saw things from my ex husband’s perspective and he understood why my ex was initially unable to reach out to his own son. But he was also able to see, thru my children, his own kids’ perspective and how his sons (now grown) yet still needed him. He could see that divorce had not affected my children’s capacity to love and respect their father. He reached out to my son, giving him the love and guidance that he wished he could have given his own sons. By this time, his sons were raising their own sons. How could they raise their sons or relate to them, talk to them, teach them, mentor them without having an example? Would they grow up to make the same mistakes that he did, thereby passing that mentality down to their offspring? The responsibility that our father laid on him so long ago resurfaced, demanding that he take action. My brother resolved that he did not want to lose an entire generation.

So he reached out to his own children. Kids have an amazing ability to forgive their parents and love unconditionally. They stand ready to welcome you back into their lives because deep down – they still want to see you (the parent) as their hero. They don’t want you to have feet of clay. They want to see a mom or dad who can still do anything. They have distant memories of riding high on your shoulders or watching as you fixed a broken toy that seemed beyond repair. They want to believe in you again. It took real courage for my brother to take that step. Change is hard but also necessary if you want to avoid the collision course that you (and your family) may be on. In taking a proactive approach, he’s doing what’s needed to avert disaster. And he’s living proof that that it’s never too late to live down your mistakes and live up to your expectations. Even at the ripe old age of … 26.

Many times we feel powerless over the path our lives have taken. Some of us give up because we feel we cannot make a difference; it’s too late. We cannot undo the past. We think even if we change what we’re doing right now, it won’t help. We can’t change how we’ve hurt people in the past or how our actions have impacted the lives of our loved ones.

But I believe that we are empowered to make big changes by the success of the small changes. Each step brings us closer to our ultimate goal and gives us confidence to make the next step. Before we know it, we are striding forward purposefully, marching even, steamrolling over obstacles in our determination to create a better future. Similarly, it can take just one person to impact the next generation. One person can make that difference – even if it’s only in their own little corner of the world. It starts with us and the examples and standards we set for our families. And in doing so, we all take on the challenge to salvage the “lost” generation.

Be blessed,