Friday, May 27, 2011

You are in Trouble !

Wednesday was the 6th grade Olympics for the middle school where I work. We escorted the kids to the stadium at the adjoining high school to watch the activities and events in a day of fun and relaxation (for the kids, heh!) Towards the end when we were getting ready to go to lunch, I carried around a bag for the kids on our team to put trash in from the snacks they had bought from the concession stand. Three kids in particular went around picking up trash that was not their own, helping me immensely.

One of them, a kid I will call Sam, sometimes gets in trouble because he has a hard time controlling blurting out, but I like him because I can tell he has a good heart. During lunch I asked that he be summoned to my room. "You are in TROUBLE," I told him, my face serious and my demeanor stern when he arrived at my desk.

The effect was electric. His eyes bugged out of his head, his mouth dropped open a little and his entire expression said, "UT OH!"

I laughed and said, "Just kidding!" and he laughed in relief. Then I asked him, "You are one of the ones who helped me collect trash, weren't you?" He replied that he was, and I gave him a small handful of Jolly Rancher candies, as I had the others who helped me.

"WOW!" he replied, as he cupped the sweet morsels, treasuring them. It was the simplest thing, but it meant something to him. I was glad I was able to make a small difference to one person on one day.


Monday, May 23, 2011

Messages from God

Messages from God

On my way from Lynchburg, Virginia to Newport News in the very early morning hours, I was greeted by an awesome sight. I had been fretting and concerned that I would become lost with the lack of road signs and difficulty finding my way in the dark. As I drove out onto the two lane highway that ventured deep into the hills, my window was cranked down and the cool wind blew past my face and through the interior of the vehicle. I turned to my left and happened to look up, and saw a scene very similar to the image pictured above.

The sky itself was a much deeper, richly hued violet. The moon was out and some sparse clouds drifted as blackened silhouettes. Only one star was visible in the entire sky- it shone down brightly from above. I was completely awestruck by the beauty of this scene.

I was reminded that we have hope. “For unto us is born a child in the city of David a Savior which is Christ our Lord.”

Your birth, O Christ our God,

dawned the light of knowledge upon the earth.
For by Your birth those who adored stars

were taught by a star
to worship You, the Sun of Justice,
and to know You, Orient from on High.
O Lord, glory to You.

-from Hymns of the Feast, Greek Orthodox Church

I was also reminded of how God watches over all of us. Who am I that God should ever think about me- but He does. And He thinks about you, too… about all of us. He desires us to be close to Him. The thing is, we spend most of our lives leading our own paths, and walking in our own self-directed ways. His response towards us, even when we completely mess up is love.

God took a moment in time on that trip in the wee morning hours, and He shared with me a fragment of the glory of His creation that left me awestruck. The illustration I chose does not really do it credit, because it does not begin to compare.

God is waiting, ever patient. Heaven is watching, like an endless cloud of witnesses. Draw us close to You, Lord. Thank You for Your love.



Friday, May 13, 2011

Road Trip

During Spring Break I took a road trip up to Virginia. I guess the timing was right, because it was just before the ugly spike in gas prices hit us. Rather than take my trusty 200,000 mile bucket of bolts up there, I rented a car for the journey.

I followed the speed limit for most of the trip, only going a little over at times to keep up with the flow of traffic. Lynchburg, Virginia was my destination to visit a freind I have not seen for 25 years, George Everson, a beautiful Christian brother.

Shortly after I entered Virginia, there was something familiar to me about the shape of the hills and the trees that lined the roadway. I could not exactly put my finger on it, but I began to laugh and cry at the same time, remembering people and places and things that happened that I had not thought of for the longest time.

I pulled into Liberty University around 4 pm. Gone was the guard shack on the bridge that students had to pass by to enter or exit. A Barnes and Noble bookstore now squatted in the middle of the parking lot just past the entrance. The growth of buildings in the central campus was staggering. There used to be a campus green with a fountain in the valley that connected the east and west sides of the campus. Although the buildings were blocky brick structures, squared off shapes that dotted the landscape, it had a small quaintness of its own.

Now the view was cut off by a massive, columned, four story structure that both dominated and obscured the entire view in the center of the campus. To me, the building itself seemed a bit presumptuous compared to the gentle grace on the ground where I once walked and lived. Different strokes for different folks, I guess.

Then it was time for me to go see George. I passed the Hess gas station, where I distinctly remember the gas prices being $1.05 a gallon, but the rest of the outskirts of Lynchburg had changed so much, I did not even recognize it.

Despite getting lost, I somehow managed to find Rivermont Avenue downtown, and proceeded to Rivermont Presbyterian Church, where George worked. How awesome it was. His hair was now gray, and mine was gone, but somehow that didn't matter. He showed me around the historic 100 year old church, telling me stories of the pastors who had served there and how God had blessed him.

George still lives in a basement apartment downtown, but he does not seem to mind. He can walk to work and wherever he needs to go- he does not own a car, which is unusual in a society of commuters, where work is often a distance from where one lives. We had dinner and talked about old times. They were good times, with our D&D gaming group as we struggled with our growth into young adulthood.

I awoke early the next morning, and packed everything up. George said a blessing over me as I left, which I treasure. As I turned the ignition on the dark street, George appeared at my door, ever the faithful servant, holding the two pillows which I had left behind.

The next leg of my trip was to Newport News, Virginia to visit another old freind, Suzanne. We got to talk and walk on the beach and go out to eat, so it was good to see her again. I was glad that she was involved in a local church and that her spiritual life was flourishing. She has a small house with an in-ground pool and her cats keep her company as they climb over every available surface, hunting and stalking one another. I got to say a prayer for her, and I hope that God blesses her richly.

There are a few other stories that I could relate, but that will have to wait for another time.


armchair coach

amateur historian

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

God is Faithful

I have been in a massive rut recently, over things that are well beyond my control. This situation is upsetting to me, and combined with my now empty and silent house with the passing of Mikey, and some other recent stressful events (also which are well beyond any remediation whatsoever) its difficult to handle. Sometimes I just shake my head and feel like crying- I feel at times that its all I can do just to hang on for another day.

I was running late for work this morning. Late that is, for my usual arrival time to get things set up, not actually late for work. So I clambered into the truck and started on my trip. As I drove, I did my usual thing of praying for those I know, asking for mercy. Usually I don't listen to the radio on the way to work as its sort of my quiet time, but today I turned the radio on. It happened to be tuned into 104.7 the fish and wouldn't you know....

At that time, that place, as I trundled along, God spoke to me through a song that was just what I needed. Not what I wanted (all my issues resolved!) but rather, just a reminder of His love, of His faithfulness towards us- towards me, even when I have screwed up.

I had heard this song before, but never in this particular context. For anyone who ever hurts, this post is for you.


armchair coach

amateur historian

Monday, May 2, 2011

I Shall Not Rejoice, pt. III

I Shall Not Rejoice, pt. III

“Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord” Romans 12:19. With the death of Osama bin Laden, I suppose it was to be expected that throngs should gather outside the White House to celebrate the death of one who killed so many innocents. I will not join them. In truth, sin darkens the hearts of all men. Proverbs 24:17 states "Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and do not let your heart be glad when he stumbles….”

I remember that day in school in 2001 when the news of the awful tragedy of the twin towers struck. Students sat spellbound in their seats as a catastrophe unfolded before them the likes of which had not been seen since Pearl Harbor in 1941. It was a time of bitter sadness, the thousands of innocents dying before our eyes.

The second article I wrote back then on the Palestinian people celebrating in the streets was meant to illustrate the back and forth retribution that causes a spiritual chain of hate, and deaths upon deaths. It is one thing when countries go to war, as in World War II, to protect the innocent. It is another when people clutch anger to their hearts like a deadly viper. The only winner in such a struggle is the enemy of all mankind. As seen in the picture, it appears that we Americans are no better than they, regardless of the cause.

I am reminded today that the Lord is Lord over all. Keep us humble. With Bin Laden’s death, let us look to ourselves, then to You. Free us from our pride. Let us surrender all our will, our hopes, our motivations, our dreams, our thoughts to You. In doing so, heal our collective hearts- Christian and Islamic, American and Palestinian- and let us rest.


Armchair coach

Amateur historian