Posted in body, brother, church, death, father, grace, grandfather, grief, heaven, Jesus, life, love, mother, peace, Physical, Prayer, season, soul, Spiritual

I Still Love You

In darkness, in grief, in despair, or even just in the midst of seasons that never seem to end, we need to make space for pause.

~ Ann Voskamp

I still love you even though you left so abruptly. I had even wished it was one of your April’s fool’s jokes. I wondered that whole day on your favorite holiday if you would send a message or telephone to say, “April’s fools! It’s all a joke, I am not really dead.” But not so. You are dead, or least to this world. You have passed onto a much happier, freer life now. How is Heaven, my brother?

I still love you even though we lived so different lives. You a bachelor, no family to attend to and I with 6 adult children and 8 grandchildren. We still shared a love for our beloved mother, father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and our northern friends. We lived in the same childhood home & family tree farm, made childhood vacation memories. We shared a love of the great outdoors, you especially with your hunting and fishing; I with my gardening. It meant the world to me when you came to Dean and I’s greenhouse and brought Grandpa to see our new adventure.

I still love you even though you left without saying those words to me. You left angry at me and our other siblings. You wanted no accountability, live life mortgage-free and a life full of cigarettes, alcohol, women, and gambling. You were writing checks your body could not cash in on anymore. We all can be a prodigal son at times, get off-course to what really matters. I know I have in my life. I had just hoped you would have come around while living on this earth. But I think you are now with those you loved the most, Mom, Dad, Grandpa, Paula, your soulmate Eileen, and the Lord. The heavenly reunion was a joyful one, I am sure.

I still love you as you have taught me how to laugh and be unconventional. I think you will continue to teach me lessons. I know you were not a churchgoer, but a believer in Jesus Christ. Despite how many knelt knees and fervent prayers are said, it is by His grace that we are saved and set free. I have my quiet time almost every morning, but this week I am attending Mass every morning, too. Not sure how long God has called me to this, but I feel a peace each morning while praying with others and for others. I did this for various seasons while working in human resources, attended noon Mass at the church a block from my office during some troublesome times and for troubled employees.

“We can love completely what we cannot completely understand.” ~Norman Maclean

The movie A River Runs Through It reminds me of you. You are the Brad Pitt character, Paul. I saw this movie a couple of days before I learned of the news of your passing, and I told Dean “Paul reminds me of Steve.” The closing words of Norman Maclean’s story, “Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and ran over rocks from the basement of time. On some of those rocks are timeless raindrops.” To me that river is the blood of Jesus, running through us, the rocks are us, and some of those rocks just have a little bit more sprinkling of raindrops, the blood of Jesus. God rest your soul. I love you, brother Steve.

Posted in battle, compassion, crown, darkness, death, die, Family, flower, friend, gift, glory, God, holy, husband, Jesus, love, night, pain, passion, scripture, triumph, victory, write

Passion and Compassion

What passion do you have in your life? A passion to write, a passion to travel, a passion to love, or a passion to start or return to a different career, hobby, or relationship? “The word passion comes from Latin root pati-, meaning suffering, or enduring. Thus, compassion means to suffer-with: the compassionate aren’t immune to other people’s pain. And passion is, at its core, a form of pain that demands it be quenched. It’s not for the faint of heart or those who lack patience — which is not the ability to wait, but the ability to suffer,” quoting Vivek Haldar.

My passion to write is so strong that I awake in the middle of the night or the wee hours of a morning with the burning desire to get my thoughts out on paper, either handwriting or typing. This morning is one of those wee hour awakenings. Dean and I’s vacation revealed Jesus in the midst of visits with family and friends and the scenery. Photos along the way captured the crown of thorns, the wooden cross, the blood of Jesus, and the glory of our Risen Lord. Our early springtime travels were in Arkansas and Texas followed by visiting family in Lee’s Summit, MO. On Good Friday we made our drive to Lexington, MO for our 2nd COVID vaccine. Feeling lethargic and achy since Friday I finally succumbed to sleep, awoke to write and back to sleep for a few more hours.

I have a burning desire to share with you the passion, of our Lord Jesus. Because of what Jesus suffered on the Cross, we can have co-passion or compassion. He made the ultimate sacrifice for you and I. He loved us so much, that he suffered death on the Cross. God’s love is experienced through Jesus Christ. “How great is the love the Father lavished on us that we should be called children of God … This is how God showed his love among us. He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” ~ 1 John 3:1 and 4: 9 & 10. It is Jesus, and Jesus alone why I can say “God loves me” and “God loves you”. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid His life for us,” the Holy Scriptures tell us. Jesus won the battle, even death on the cross could not hold Him back. Jesus is alive today! Accept Jesus’ love into your hearts today! Thank You, Jesus for this gift of love shared with each and every one of us this Easter Day!

Posted in art, battle, believe, blessings, challenges, community, crown, death, die, differences, faith, Family, friend, friends, God, health, heart, hope, Jesus, job, life, mother, neighbor, pain, scripture, together, trust, veteran

Broken Pieces

In 1944 and 1945 during the World War II, U.S. Army Chaplain Frederick A. McDonald walked where the places of worship once stood. Shards of stained glass scattered the streets. He sent selected pieces to his home in Seattle while the war was coming to an end. He did know the intent other than to preserve what he witnessed while serving as a chaplain. Years later he and a colleague commissioned artist to use the shards of glass for what would become masterpieces of art. The exhibit is owned by the Interfaith Center at the Presidio in San Francisco. “The exhibition is a metaphor for what division breeds — and for what happens when people set aside differences and try to build something out of the broken pieces,” quoting Indra Neelameggham, Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable.

Life has no guarantees, no refunds. Conflict, poor health, toxic relationships, lost jobs. Or worse yet; war, a painful death, domestic abuse, and becoming homeless. These real struggles plague our lives either for ourselves, our loved ones, our neighbors, and our communities. Like the sharpness of broken glass pieces, sometimes life feels like your heart is cut out while the pumping blood spews.

For a few weeks the church next door shared this message on their marquee sign, “Broken things become blessed things if you let God do the mending.” Do you believe that message? If not, it is a walk of faith for those broken things to become blessed things. Faith in our God, not in our own abilities or those of others. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” ~ Proverbs 3:5.

Posted in believe, conquer, crown, death, glory, God, heart, holy, Jesus, king, life

A Crown and Purple Promises

medical_animation_coronavirus_structureKristina Jacobsen, a cultural anthropologist and singer-songwriter recently wrote in a Blue Zones article about her experience in Italy and living among the Italians during the novel corona virus pandemic.  “Antonio Pani plays with the word ‘corona,’ which also means ‘crown’ and symbolizes power.  He addresses the novel corona virus, singing in the southern version of the Sardinian language, Campidanese: ‘Even if you walk around with a crown, you will never be our king’.”  Pani’s sentiments are shared among all mankind around this world today.

But there was a crown worn by a Jewish man, Jesus.  His story is to be told hundreds of years before His birth and resurrection, and these hundreds of years afterwards.  This Holy Week leads us to the promises from the prophets of old.  Who is this King of Glory?  The Holy Bible in the Old and New Testaments makes references to crowns and the color purple which signify royalty.  Kings, queens, and prophets wore purple.  The books of Esther, who is crowned queen by King Xerxes and Daniel, the prophet who is given this same honor signified by wearing a purple robe.  A crown of thorns and a purple robe were used mockingly by the Roman soldiers to decorate Jesus Christ as the King of the Jews while the crowd shouted “Crucify! Crucify!”  Jesus suffered everything and died on the cross He was nailed to.  That crown of thorns would be replaced three days later with a crown of glory.  You see, death could not hold Jesus back from God’s glory.  Jesus conquered death. This Son of Man is also the Son of God.  The King of the Jews is our King.  Believe.  Let this Easter be the season to believe, old promises made anew,  a shining light in the darkness, broken hearts mended, a new life.  Like the purple phlox, violets, hyacinths, and tulips open up for us, open the gates of your heart and let Him in!

 This song “The King of Glory” was written by Catholic priest, Willard F. Jabusch.  This well-known song is based on an Israeli folk tune that he learned while studying in Israel.  Let us celebrate!

The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices.
Who is the King of glory; What shall we call him?
He is Immanuel, the promised of ages.
The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices.
In all of Galilee, in city or village,
He goes among his people, curing their illness.
The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices.
Sing then of David’ Son, our Savior and Brother.
In all of Galilee was never another.
The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices.
He gave his life for us, the Lamb of salvation.
He took upon himself the sin of the nations
The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices.
He conquered sin and death; he truly has risen.
And he will share with us his heavenly vision.
The King of glory comes, the nation rejoices.
Open the gates before him, lift up your voices.
Posted in comfort, darkness, death, Emotional, Family, friend, God, Jesus, life, light, Prayer, scripture, silence, sorrow, victory, warm

Warmth During The Bitter Cold

I awoke this bitter cold morning to a hush.  Not much stirring inside or outside. Missouri broke record cold temps overnight, a whole 10 degrees this November 12.  Little stirring  in the neighborhood as school was called off and commuters leaving late for work.  An early season snow storm set the whole area in an icy mess late yesterday. Typically I would be in the shower by now, focused on my 9-hour day ahead at the office.  But I was attending the funeral of a colleague who suddenly passed 5 days ago.  I prayed for a blessed day despite needing to say “goodbye” to this friend later this morn.

I was blessed with the song birds coming to the feeder this morning.  Chirping and feasting.  Shadows of the birds, feeder, and perches lingered in the window panes.  The contrast of light and dark resembled life and death.  Guess which one wins?   “He will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces … But thanks be to God!  He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Isaiah 25:8 & 1 Corinthians 15:37.  The warmth of the guest bedroom lured me to a nap after the funeral this sunny afternoon.  I awoke knowing my life and my death is in His hands like my friend, his wife, and his son.

Posted in cross, God, holy, Jesus, life, love

I Owe All To You, Jesus

My favorite worship song for this Holy Week …
There’s a place where mercy reigns
And never dies
There’s a place where streams of grace
Flow deep and wide
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down
At the cross, at the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You, Jesus
There’s a place where sin and shame
Are powerless
Where my heart has peace with God
And forgiveness
Where all the love I’ve ever found
Comes like a flood
Comes flowing down
At the cross, at the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You
Here my hope is found
Here on holy ground
Here I bow down
Here I bow down
Here arms open wide
Here You save my life
Here I bow down
Here I bow
At the cross, at the cross
I surrender my life
I’m in awe of You
I’m in awe of You
Where Your love ran red
And my sin washed white
I owe all to You
I owe all to You
I owe all to You
I owe all to You, Jesus, Jesus
Your love ran red
Your love ran red
At the Cross (Love Ran Red) by Songwriters: Matt Armstrong / Ed Cash / Chris Tomlin / Matt Redman / Jonas Myrin
… visualize, meditate, and know… “God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” Acts 2:24 New American Standard.  Thank you, Father!  Thank you, Jesus!